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How to Bring Your “A Game” to C-Suite Leadership

August 14, 2015
Borderless Leadership

Whether it’s a close-knit group of trusted peers or an experienced consulting firm helping you to navigate choppy business waters, your company’s success hinges on your leadership skills. How you solicit feedback, make decisions, set goals, and communicate to your team has a profound impact on the future of your company.

Leading By Example

Great leaders know how to balance pragmatism with inspiration. They always lead by example, and they know how to set fair, concrete expectations for employees. If your company is facing rough seas ahead, it’s time to bust out your best leadership skills. Here’s how to bring your A game to any trying leadership scenario.

Bringing Your “A Game” to C-Suite Leadership

  • See the Details, But Don’t Forget the Big Picture

As your company’s leader, your job is to get your arms around the facts to accurately assess the challenges at hand. To get a true understanding of a situation, you need a kind of double vision.With one eye focused on the big picture and the other eye on small details, you can make smarter decisions.

How do you get this double vision? By communicating up and down the chain of command. The late Steve Jobs is a perfect example. No detail was too trivial for him, and Jobs often visited the Apple store nearest his home in Palo Alto, California. To be a great leader — like Jobs — you’ll need to maintain top-down and bottom-up perspectives and become adept at switching from a ground view to a 10,000-foot view.

  • Make Informed Decisions With Confidence

You will never have 100 percent of the facts, and time is a finite commodity. Instead of hunting down every fact and detail, seek to gather enough information to make an informed decision. Great leaders know their mandate is not to hold position, but to forge ahead in new, sensible directions. So consult with your colleagues, gather the available facts, and be decisive about next steps.

Just look at Harlan Sands, the University of Louisville’s first CFO/COO. Five months into his new role, Sands introduced a new organizational structure affecting more than 600 employees. An expert decision maker, Sands executes plans with timeliness and confidence. To enhance university operations, he realigned the teams and responsibilities with specific goals in mind: efficiency, analytics, and accountability.

  • Be Transparent to Win Hearts and Minds

Great leaders never ask for your trust; they earn it. They freely explain to others why they believe what they do. Always be sure to tell your team why you’re endorsing a particular course of action and the outcome you expect. Provide them with the knowledge behind your decision-making process, and they’ll be more willing to support your course of action.

William (Chip) Wann is the COO of Mspark and a master at using a straightforward approach and transparency to solve problems. He believes that numbers are the ultimate form of transparency; they can’t lie. Chip uses the clarity that numbers provide to hunt down missing information, make well-informed decisions, and keep employees up-to-date every step of the way.

  • Inspire Your Team With Realism

Just like you’ll never have all of the facts, you’ll also never find a risk-free decision. Our job as leaders is to be honest about the risks and then create a strategy to mitigate them. Acknowledge your challenges, but make it clear that you intend to prevail. Own up to the risks, and your team will reflect this realistic yet optimistic attitude.

Nathan Pruet is the embodiment of a realistic leader. He’s a leader in the risk management department of a Fortune 500 financial institution and a pro at helping others understand the realities and challenges of large-scale change. Nathan has a gift for defusing stressful situations, and it’s his realistic perspective that often calms the troubled waters around him.

  • Keep an Ear to the Ground

Always ask your team if you’re missing anything, and seek their input. This lays the groundwork for honest feedback and equips them to make your plan a reality. When they provide feedback, they’re investing in your plan. Feedback shows mutual respect, and this level of engagement can bring your plans to life. How would you like to be at the helm of a company tarnished by a major accounting scandal? 

Jay Grinney, CEO of HealthSouth, helped the company with the largest turnaround in recent years. How did he do it? Jay started by having lunch with his employees to hear their concerns and ask for their feedback about organizational challenges.

  • Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help

If your company could benefit from hiring a consulting firm, look for one that isn’t afraid to get its hands dirty. In most cases, executives already know what challenges they face. Identifying and articulating those challenges is only part of the job. 

Consultants demonstrate their true value by rolling up their sleeves and developing an action plan, which will become your company’s road map to better days. It’s not enough to point out the problems; the challenge lies in tackling them. Lead by running to the problem first, then articulate a solution and bring your team together. Let’s flex those leadership muscles and get to work.

By Carey Rome

Source: Linked 2 Leadership

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