Leadership Shifts

brand-as-business bit:  In this month’s Harvard Business Review, author and management advisor Michael Watkins addresses the challenges a function head faces when he or she first becomes an enterprise leader.  Watkins outlines seven “seismic shifts that executives must navigate including shifting from specialist to generalist and from tactician to strategist.

In my own leadership experiences as well as observing and coaching others, I’ve found three of these shifts to be the most critical – and the most challenging:

–          From Bricklayer to Architect – This shift requires an understanding and appreciation of organizational design.  “As leaders move up to the enterprise level, they become responsible for designing and altering the architecture of their organization – its strategy, structure, processes, and skill bases.”  A leader must develop human resource expertise and use it to shape the organization, not simply work within it.

–          From Problem Solver to Agenda Setter —  “When [managers] become enterprise leaders, they must focus less on solving problems and more on defining which problems the organization should be tackling.”  This seems a natural corollary to the adage “Don’t just do things right, do the right things.”  Leadership is about seeing the forest for the trees.

–          From Warrior to Diplomat – As people move up in organizations, the way they get things done changes — power through influence replaces power through position or formal authority.   “[Effective corporate diplomats] use the tools of diplomacy – negotiation, persuasion, conflict management, and alliance building – to shape the external business environment to support their strategic objectives.

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