The Executive Role: Is It For You?
In 1985, I had the opportunity to participate in a leadership development and coaching program led by Howard Holt “Pete” Bradshaw of Organization Consultants Inc., who died in 2012 after a long career providing counsel to business leaders.
At one point during the program, he asked the participants to do some introspective thinking about the executive role. The primary question to be answered was
Do you have the ego strength to provide credible and positive leadership on a day-in, day-out basis in the face of mission critical business issues, external (media, politicians, government) criticism and internal competition?
Here is the list of thought starters that were provided for this self-evaluation.
- How willing are you to expend 10-20 hours per week beyond the normal on activities intended to advance your career and/or your employer’s interests (e.g. school, PR activities)?
- To what extent are you willing to initiate and take on civic and outside business involvements requiring substantial personal time (e.g. industry associations, charities)?
- How much are you willing to invest (time, risk) in learning more about business (seek and accept positions outside your field, broadening experiences)?
- How high and how clear are your expectations of others’ performance? What levels to you demand in selection, appraisals, etc.
- How ruthless can you be in weeding out poor performers, closing down favored projects, etc.?
- How easy is it for you to make tough personnel or other decisions without becoming personally involved?
- How good are you at maintaining psychological distance from subordinates, peers, etc.?
- To what degree are you willing to deliberately and verbally support your line superiors to others so that those superiors know your loyalty?
- How willing are you to deliberately seek influence, build alliances and visibly support higher-level executives – including those for whom you have little respect?
- Are you comfortable with a job that is substantially devoted to managing internal and external environments?
- How regularly – and effectively – do you set key priorities for yourself (i.e., matters where you will devote major time vs. shotgun or scattered mode)?