Early in my career, a senior leader in the company introduced me to the concept of the Circle of Control and the Circle of Concern. He explained that the Circle of Control relates to the role and responsibilities that a leader has whereas the Circle of Concern encompasses the broader impact a leader can make on the organization. For leaders in the lower ranks, these two circles are similar in size. As leaders move up into executive ranks, it is essential that their Circle of Concern expands to an even greater extent than their Circle of Control. I refer to this as “role amplification.” Amplification ensures that leaders are continually pushing themselves to make a more significant impact on the broader organization.
I use the circles concept when coaching leaders aspiring to executive ranks. We discuss the actions and behaviors they need to amplify to demonstrate executive potential. As you progress in your career, it is important for you to reflect on how you can amplify the following ten skills to position yourself as a leader who has a broader perspective, a strategic mindset, and the ability to influence across the company.
Amplify Your Voice
One of the easiest skills to amplify is your voice. When attending meetings, it is crucial to think beyond your circle of control and make contributions that have relevance to other areas of the company. Although it can feel daunting to share your thoughts and ideas beyond your immediate scope of responsibility, doing so is essential to position yourself as a leader with broader perspectives and insights. It is important to be mindful of how your input might be received and to consider shaping your contributions as open-ended questions rather than positional statements. By doing so, you will create opportunities for collaborative problem-solving, gain valuable insights, and establish yourself as a trusted and respected leader in the organization.
Amplify Your Relationships
To unlock untapped benefits and advance your career, it is important to venture beyond your immediate organizational chart. Identify adjacent organizations where you can learn and contribute. Approach these relationships as mutually beneficial partnerships. Bring valuable insights, innovative ideas, and best practices to each meeting. Ask open-ended questions that promote meaningful dialogue. Do so to establish yourself as a valuable contributor to the larger organization, build relationships that will help achieve business outcomes, and advance your career.
Amplify Your Vision
Demonstrate strong strategic acumen to highlight your executive potential. As highlighted in a 2019 Harvard Business Review article by Nina A. Bowman, demonstrating strategic thinking requires you to be “a marketer, a salesperson, and a change agent.” Proactively communicate your efforts and insights with others in the organization. Initiate strategic initiatives, challenge the status quo, and champion innovative ideas that align with the organization’s goals. This will position you as a leader with a broad perspective, a strategic mindset, and the ability to drive innovative change.
Amplify Your Curiosity
Many of the organizations I work with, highly value curiosity. Demonstrate your curiosity by asking thoughtful questions during meetings. Start your questions with the phrase “I’m curious…” to signal your eagerness to learn and understand. In addition, make your questions more impactful by using The Three Cs of Curious questioning: Company, Customer, and Competition. For example, ask “I’m curious how our customers might feel about that?” or “I’m curious how our competitors are likely to react?” Ask insightful questions to demonstrate your willingness to think critically, seek new perspectives, and contribute to meaningful discussions that can drive innovation and progress within the organization.
Amplify Your Knowledge
Enhance your executive potential by continuously expanding your knowledge and expertise. Be courageous and humble. You do not always have to be the smartest individual in the room. The fear of failing, of not knowing, can be limiting. Place yourself in situations where you can learn new things. Consider expanding your knowledge into adjacent areas or areas that align with your career path. For instance, if you are in product management, consider stretching your knowledge into other products or areas that intersect with your role. This will deepen your understanding of the organization’s goals and priorities and develop a broader perspective that will inform your decision-making. Additionally, increasing your knowledge will help amplify your voice and influence. Doing so will equip you to contribute to discussions, provide valuable insights, and lead meaningful initiatives that drive results.
Amplify Your Impact
Develop a strong executive brand by amplifying the impact you have on the company. Take on a leadership role in strategic initiatives or innovative projects. By doing so, you will increase your visibility across the organization, gain valuable experience, and make meaningful contributions that add value to the company. Additionally, leading such initiatives demonstrates your ability to think critically, make strategic decisions, and work collaboratively with others toward common goals. As a result, you will develop a reputation as a proactive and results-driven leader who is committed to driving positive change and achieving success for the organization.
Amplify Your Team
A critical executive leadership skill is the ability to build and lead effective teams. Demonstrate your leadership potential by amplifying your team. Hire top talent and invest in their development. Use proven tools and methods to identify skill gaps and leverage effective developmental approaches to help them grow and succeed. Also, uplevel your delegation approach by providing team members with meaningful projects and responsibilities that stretch their abilities and develop critical skills. Do not forget to take the time to provide regular feedback. Lastly, advocate for team members and provide them with opportunities for visibility and recognition. Sponsor their participation in cross-functional initiatives or connect them with influential stakeholders who can provide new opportunities for growth and development.
Amplify Your Risk-Taking
Data and analytics in decision-making become more limited when you move into an executive role, and you will be required to take more risks. This is a skill that you should develop while in your current role. To amplify your risk-taking, strike a balance between the available data and your instinct. In addition, it is important to stretch your “risk muscles” by venturing out into new areas to collect new experiences. Find a way to lead initiatives outside your comfort zone and do not let fear hold you back. Embrace failure as it will be part of the process. When this happens, it is important to learn to pivot quickly to get things back on track.
Amplify Your Influence
Amplify your influence skills to succeed in executive roles. Influencing at higher levels requires the ability to frame a conversation. Adopt proven models to help you structure influencing discussions effectively. One influencing model that is effective is the A-B-C-D model. I have used this model successfully in my career. It involves four steps: Acknowledge the situation, create Buy-In, facilitate a Collaborative discussion, and reach win-win Decisions. By using this model, you can structure your influencing discussions in a way that maximizes impact and builds credibility with your key stakeholders. You can read more about this model on my website.
Amplify Your Agility
To amplify your agility, develop the ability to flex with situations and find a way to be comfortable with change. There were multiple times during my career when I was called upon to move abroad, take on a new role or lead an initiative with little notice. Develop a playbook and an effective business management system for these kinds of situations. This will help you ramp up faster and adjust smoothly to new environments.
As you have deduced, many of the skills needed to amplify executive excellence are interrelated and you can multiply your amplification by thinking through how you can combine these to achieve maximum brand impact. For some, this list can be daunting. To help you with this process, I have created a simple worksheet you can use to prioritize which areas you should focus on. Click here to download the worksheet.
I hope these actions will help you in your quest to be seen as an executive. Please reach out to me if you need professional assistance in developing these critical skills. Drop me a note in the comment section below or through the Contact Me page if you have any questions.
© T. Kahler Coaching, LLC, All Rights Reserved.