To become a C-suite executive at a multibillion-dollar company–or any other remarkable and sought-after role typically requires a lifetime commitment of training. You don’t become a point guard from watching someone else play basketball, it takes actually playing, having your opponents in your face, and stepping out into the action to know what it’s like.
The only preparation for undertaking an executive role is practice, experience, and perseverance. No amount of schooling or reading can prepare you alone.
On the path to becoming a thought leader in a C-level position, you not only take on a remarkably diverse range of professional roles leading up to executive position, but you’re expected to excel in each and every one. Excelling isn’t just a matter of profit margins or KPIs, but rather how you show up for the people who have invested in what you do. How do you succeed in this? It’s not as easy as it might seem.
On one hand, you’re a normal person who’s smart, humble, and dedicated, yet you’re also matched in resilience, grit, hustle, and success. How do you embody these sometimes-dueling characteristics?
Throw out the playbook, and create your own version of leadership.
“Excelling isn’t just a matter of profit margins or KPIs, but rather how you show up for the people who have invested in what you do. “
Create Your Own Version of Leadership
Business is all about people, which means that at the core, all business activity is human activity. There lies a human element at every part of your professional path. What distinguishes the greatest executives–driven by passion, purpose, and good–from the rest are the human differences: caring about your work, being an active listener, and weaving lessons into the everyday fabric of your own life. These are touches that true leaders have for themselves and create for others.
There is no one blueprint for leadership, it’s as unique and individual as our fingerprints. We have this amazing freedom to create our own style and brand of leadership, which can at times be overwhelming. The first step is simply thinking carefully about what type of leader you want to be.
Lay out traits and qualities you want to provide for those you lead. Some examples from our COO, Carson Morell are:
- Instill confidence in them, the work they do, and the direction of the business
- Make them feel understood and heard
- Create an atmosphere where their ideas are encouraged and valued
What traits do you want to grow into?
- Promote and enable teamwork
- Inspiring team members
Writing down these traits isn’t just some exercise, it’s a way to be intentional with your actions, behaviors, and experiences so you can eventually have these traits. Identify where your inspiration from these traits are coming from; can they be learned over time, in certain positions or environments? Are they usually innate, and might take coaching to develop?
Getting to the root of these traits will help you go about attaining them. Rather than passively wandering through life and letting whatever experiences come your way, be proactive. Intentionally put yourself with people and in situations that will foster forward momentum to your goal.
After intentionality comes an even more important step: reflection. Constantly evaluating what you’ve learned day-to-day helps you to make more informed decisions in the future. Making a habit of reflection has another perk: you’re able to identify when you’ve reached certain goals or have attained certain leadership qualities that you set out to have. Now you’ve freed up mental space to set another goal.
What Unities Great Leaders?
Just because every leader is unique doesn’t mean there aren’t commonalities between them. The best leaders are:
- Socially aware
If any of these traits were added on your wish-list, job well done. You’re well on your way to defining your own unique brand of leadership that inspires the masses.
The best leaders are those who are committed to improving, learning, and growing at every available opportunity. Shaping your own unique style of leadership is not only a matter of experience, but also a test of grit.
Leadership, at the end of the day, is a map to help people belong authentically and create an environment where others can bring their full self to work. There is no one-size fits all approach, and requires a lifetime of trial, error, and evaluation.