Whether you’re in mid-level management, an SVP, President, or C-level Executive, you know the importance of continuing to develop as a leader. However, it is not always clear what the best strategy is to develop into an executive leader.
In this article, we'll explore...
- What the Best Executives Do Well
- 21st-Century Challenges Facing Executives
- How to Identify Leadership Weaknesses
- 5 Executive Leadership Development Solutions to Increase your Performance
What the Best Executives Do Well
In addition to the classic traits found in great leaders such as “self-starter,” and “ability to motivate others,” executives in the 21st century must remain transformative and make their vision as clear and attainable as possible.
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is one of the wealthiest men in the world, yet he still wanders the warehouse amongst his employees. This type of front-line leadership engages and motivates employees through Bezos' presence on the ground level of the now 700 billion dollar company.
In addition to engaging front-line staff, Bezos reveres the customer. He's become well known for “the empty chair” due to a boardroom chair that he reserves for the customer. By doing this, Bezos conveys a clear vision to the C-suite: the customer's voice must be reflected in boardroom conversations and be at the heart of all business decisions.
Trust in executive leaders is important to Bezos. The former head of British operations Simon Murdoch recalls his suggestion for next-day delivery. Bezos was not immediately taken with the idea, however, with a dramatic change in warehouse hours, next-day delivery has become one of Amazon's cornerstone services. It is clear that Bezos’ confidence in his executive leadership team has contributed to much of Amazon’s success.
What defines a good leader?
Joy White Executive Director, Space and Missile Systems Center, Los Angeles Air Force Base, California shares her prerequisites for good leaders.
21st-Century Challenges Facing Executives
Although nearly 75% of executives across a range of businesses and nonprofit organizations agree that developing leadership is extremely important, less than half of those same executives see an actual investment being made in executive leadership training.
So what’s the hang-up? Two significant challenges: finding diverse candidates and rallying organizational support for executive leadership training.
Rallying Organizational Support
Finding the right pool of diverse candidates is only half the battle. For leadership development to be successful, it must be a sustained commitment of both time and resources.
For instance, a thirty-year-old company must be able to communicate with and develop millennial employees who aspire to take on leadership and management roles within the organization. This could mean adopting new technology and understanding its application to mentorship.
How to Identify Leadership Weaknesses
An organization that can both identify the strengths and weaknesses of future leaders early while demonstrating faith in them by appropriately investing in a sustained succession plan will inspire the confidence needed from future executives.
When trying to determine gaps in leadership, an excellent place to start is taking an inventory of your leadership strengths. Completing a leadership style self-assessment will orient you to your natural strengths and weaknesses.
How to Develop Executive Leadership Strengths
5 Executive Leadership Development Solutions to Increase your Performance
Executive leadership training in itself is not exclusive to one type of program. Experience can be gained through a variety of methods. The challenge of preparing yourself to be an executive is determining which leadership training program is right for you.
1. Leadership Workshops and Seminars
Try to find a workshop or seminar that aligns with your leadership style and organizational vision. A comprehensive leadership workshop will allow you to exercise your strengths and broaden your experience.
2. Online Leadership Training Courses
As a manager or executive, you may not always have the time during the workday to develop your leadership skills. Online leadership training courses will give you an opportunity to grow as a leader after hours.
3. Leadership Coaching
As leadership gaps persist, finding great mentors will remain a challenge. Seek out mentors that align with your leadership style; you'll learn how playing to your strengths can lead to organizational success. When seeking a mentor, though, avoid these eight common mistakes.
4. Leadership Conferences
Leadership events can be a great way to network and meet executives from a variety of backgrounds. Leadership conferences will help you gain valuable perspectives without sacrificing significant time or resources.
5. Leadership Graduate Programs
A graduate leadership program tailored to meet your goals is the most comprehensive way to gain experience, knowledge, perspective, and exercise in real-world scenarios. Several masters degrees can be earned part-time and online.
Executive leadership programs are designed to give you the best offsite leadership training while you further your career, but one or all of these methods will help sustain your growth as a leader and as an executive.
Keep in mind, great leaders understand the fundamental difference between leadership training and leadership development. A one-off training course, although helpful, pales in comparison to the life-changing experience of an intensive graduate program.