Five Steps Required to Demonstrate Your Readiness for Senior Leadership

i) Change the way you think

Reasons for success at lower levels are different from those at the senior level. You will require new skills and behaviours, ie there are 2 critical psychological capabilities, eg

- growth mindset (understanding that your strengths and weaknesses can be built on and are not predetermined or fixed)

- learning agility, ie

"...a willingness and ability to learn from experience, then apply that learning to perform successfully under new or first-time conditions......Learning agility gives you the ability to be successful without relying on your past..."

Anthony Mitchell 2019

ii) Success is more than technical expertise, ie

"...leadership is not about being the smartest person in the room, or solving all the problems. As a senior leader, your value comes from helping others to achieve their potential, solving their own problems, and solving problems through collaboration. The further you progress, the less likely it is you will know how to do all the roles for which you are responsible..... You'll oversee operations, marketing, technology, HR, finance, legal and more. No level of brain power can enable expertise in such diverse domains..."

Anthony Mitchell 2019

Senior leaders need to learn to trust other people and equip people to solve their own challenges

"...Focus on building a strong team and creating collective trust. Ask curious questions, be vulnerable, don't cast blame, and treat failures as learning opportunities..."

Anthony Mitchell 2019

iii) Less direct control and more influencing

"...the bigger and broader the group for which you are responsible, the more you'll have to accept that you can't control much. All you can do is trust and influence......micro-managing will create fear, alienate your people and mean that you won't get the best from them......Start with delegating more low-risk tasks to capable people, increasing the amount of responsibility and freedom..."

Anthony Mitchell 2019

Possessing "influencing skills" like persuasion, motivation, negotiations, communications, etc are essential. This is linked with emotional intelligence, "soft" skills, etc that need to be fully developed.

Also, start referring to "how we can win" rather than "how I can win" and to understanding other people's needs, ie

"...look to ensure your needs are met while meeting the needs of others..."

Anthony Mitchell 2019

This role relies on acquired skill of building relationships with people who can help you see things in a different way, ie have a different perspective, point of view, etc.

iv) Understand the bigger picture, ie you need to understand the business from many different angles and put the overall business needs ahead of those you directly manage, eg be like a helicopter rather than a fight in the trenches

v) Control your emotions

"...neuroscience has shown that the more senior you are, the more your emotions shape the emotions of others......while you should always be yourself, senior leaders have to strive to be their best selves - all the time..."

Anthony Mitchell 2019

As the consequences of negative emotions can be disastrous, you need to identify these moods and minimise them. Issues like lack of sleep, conflicts of interest, personality dislikes, etc can have a powerful impact on your emotions. Use strategies such as mindfulness, relaxation techniques (yoga, etc), cognitive reappraisal or distraction, executive coaching, exercise, etc to help you handle your negative emotions.

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