Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Offering a unique value proposition as an employee 21: senior and executive management and leadership 1

Posted in career development, job search, job search and career development by Timothy Platt on September 3, 2013

This is my twenty first posting to a series on offering defining value as an employee, and on presenting yourself as the answer to problems faced while doing so (see my Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development – 2, postings 311-330 for Parts 1-20.)

I have been at least roughly following a career-step by career-step progression in this series, from a job search on and with discussion of entering management or not, and on working as a manager and team leader. Then in Parts 16-20 I took a digression and focused on startups, and on working for one and leading one. I return back to the basic career progression path with this posting, and with a focus here on working as a senior manager or executive officer and as a Chief Executive Officer.

To put this posting into perspective with this blog as a whole, I note here for background reference material purposes, a series that I have explicitly written about senior management positions and their areas of responsibility (see: Transitioning into Senior Management, Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development, postings 158-178 for Parts 1-21.) I also note an ongoing progression of postings on leadership per se that I have added to my Business Strategy and Operations directory and its Part 2 and Part 3 continuation pages (52 postings as of this writing with the word leadership in their titles), and similar postings in directories such as HR and Personnel.)

To put this posting into perspective in the context of this series, I note that the series title is: Offering a Unique Value Proposition as an Employee, and I stress the word “Employee” in that. One of the points that I raised in the context of leading a startup, that applies with equal force here or for any leadership position is that a leader needs to remember that every organization, and even the most authoritarian and top-down led and managed, is a collaboration. If you are to lead, you have to bring others to follow your lead, and that means building bridges and not simply walling yourself off for your holding a special place of authority and control.

As a leader, you have to take on a special, and for your organization even a unique set of responsibilities. You may at times even have to make generally unpopular decisions, and follow through upon them. But ultimately, you have to be a member of the same overall team as everyone else who works there, and you have to be an employee too – even if the most senior employee there, as the Chief Executive Officer in charge. So the word “Employee” in this series’ and in this specific posting’s title takes on special significance here.

• For many, the biggest challenge faced in being a leader, and particularly for being a CEO is in knowing in the midst of the day to day details and decisions, when and how to be a member of the team and when to step away from a “one of the team” approach to make binding overall decisions – and particularly when those are necessary decisions that carry downsides as well as meeting important positive needs.

This challenge plays out in a variety of ways, depending on circumstance and on the individual strengths and weaknesses, preferences and personality of a leader.

• For some the challenge is in not walling yourself off behind an executive secretary or an administrative assistant, and behind a door that only members of the C level team and their immediate staff ever really enter, except for the cleaning crew after hours.
• For some this is more a challenge in knowing when and how best to step back and make final, binding decisions and when any discussion period is over.

As a leader, who you are and your experience and your personality and all of your strengths are assets. All of these same qualities that you find in your colleagues and at all levels on the table of organization, are your assets too. If a business’ personnel constitute its greatest overall source of strength, and this is almost always the case, then those combined strengths and capabilities and both as they are and as they could be cultivated and advanced, create that sustaining value. But as a leader, your comfort zone and its gaps can be your greatest liability too. That is particularly true when your comfort zone boundaries and those gaps in what you would comfortably do simply go unexamined – and you make decisions and set yourself up for making them unaware of how staying in your comfort zone can position you and your business for problems, and even long term structural ones.

So this posting has been leading up to one crucial, even if trite sounding point – trite when expressed as an abstraction.

• An effective leader knows themselves, and they actively push the envelope of their comfort zone, not to take foolhardy risks, but to grow and both professionally and as a person.
• And an effective leader strives to build and sustain a workplace environment where others can do this too.

I am going to continue this discussion in a next series installment where I will focus on the issues of working with others, and both directly, and indirectly through subordinate managers. And as a foretaste of that posting I note that a lot of it will be about taking ownership and supporting others as they do too, and as they take on decision making responsibilities. Meanwhile, you can find this and related postings at my Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development – 2 and at its first Guide directory page.

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