Leadership Tip: Boost Your Impact – Be An Executive!

— September 12, 2019

Are you an effective executive? How do you know? How are you actively gauging whether you are or are not? What would those around you say? If you are an executive, you should have clear answers to each of these questions.

What if you don’t have a formal executive title, but still have high levels or a large scope of responsibilities? Are you then an executive?…very possibility, you are!

Here’s an interesting point. There are folks who are executives but don’t see themselves as one because their title may not reflect the typical perception and understanding of an executive. In fact many of those same folks see themselves as leaders, but not necessarily executives.

Yet by nature of the definition of executive, they are. For example, a “department head” in essence is an executive – even director level….managers??

Why do I say this? Look at the basic definition of executive:

  1. Executive: having the power to put plans, actions, or laws, policies into effect.
    Functions: administrative, decision-making, directorial, directing, controlling, managerial.

    The key distinction from one type of executive to another is the scope of power, authority and responsibility. For example, the responsibilities for an executive of a large publicly traded Fortune 500 company is different from those of ….let’s say… a small not-for-profit. Yet, both hold the role of executive.

    The point is, at its core, each role holds the fundamental expectation of executing – that is leading and managing resources to achieve needed and expected results.

So, why does this matter? 2 Issues:

> I’ve observed leaders who are not as effective as they could be, who are not functioning at their full potential because they don’t have the “executive factor” infused in their leadership psyche. I don’t know about you but saying your leader vs. saying you’re an executive kinda has a different feel to it.

> And, some carry the assumption that having the title of executive and being an effective executive are synonymous – yet…they are not.

Even hiring an executive with “previous experience” does not mean that experience was effective. They could be experienced at being ineffective. Asking what someone “did” is not the same as learning how effective they were at doing it.

So, as a leader, if you want to fine-tune your performance consider the question, “How effective am I?” And, if you want to improve your effectiveness, start by implementing the following 7 steps:

1. See yourself as an executive (no matter your official title) in replace of or in addition to seeing yourself as a leader). Seeing yourself a certain way will dictate what you expect of yourself and how you conduct yourself. It’s called “self-concept.”

2. Clearly define what effective means to you within your current responsibilities and expectations.

3. Determine what’s currently missing that you’ll need to change meet what you’ve determined is being effective.

4. Determine how you’ll consistently gauge whether you’re hitting the mark.

5. Seek regular input to quickly fill in your blindspots. Don’t wait for formal 360 initiatives if your organization does those. You’ll miss too many real-time opportunities to learn so you can quickly course correct…this is a key element of being effective.

6. Clearly demonstrate that meaningful action has been taken on any input you’ve received.

7. Make sure you consistently, voluntarily communicate results to all stakeholders in a timely way. Keep people in the know. This is also a way of aligning your performance perception to theirs while keeping your focus and staying on track. Being effective also includes managing the perception of those to whom you are accountable.

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Author: JoAnn Corley

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