Leaders Part One

“Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”   Ralph Waldo Emerson

 Leaders have a role which is fundamentally different than Managers. Leadership requires you be proactive. Managers are more reactive, following the policies and guidelines that leaders set. Leaders ask WHY, Managers ask HOW. Leaders are constantly on the outlook for new opportunities. Managers are focused on looking out for what can go wrong. Leaders are required to let go. Managers are expected to take charge. Leaders are expected to create compelling Visions of the future. Managers are focused on today. Leaders anticipate problems. Managers are always searching for solutions. Leaders get things done through influencing others. Managers use their authority. Leaders create the culture. Managers administer programs. Leaders inspire others. Managers teach others. Leaders think laterally and strategically. Managers think logically and tactically. Leaders thrive on crisis. Managers strive for stability.

To become a great leader one must understand that he or she needs to ascend the developmental XRoads. All too often I observe young, talented employees with a good education ie. a MBA, thinking they’re ready for a management role or higher after only a couple of years of  work experience. Or in the case of young entrepreneurs, thinking they’re ready to lead a fast growing business enterprise. They might be smart practitioners in their functional areas of expertise but leading an enterprise you founded based on your technical abilities is a whole other “ball of wax.” They’d be wise to hire a mentor to work with them while they’re tutored in the management and leadership roles embedded in XRoads. It just might save them from kicking some of the “trip wires” they’re bound to experience along the way.  

Developmental XRoads  * Ram Charan The Leadership Pipeline:   XRoad  1-Managing Self   This role is where most of us start our careers. You’re an individual contributor who is able to plan so the work gets done on time and is punctual, and consistently delivers good work. You’re a good “Fit” culturally speaking and developing excellent collaboration skills. You accept Responsibility to get the work done on time and on budget.   XRoads  2-Co-Ordinating Others  This is the first role in the supervision of others without the added challenge of being Accountable for your team members performance. You assign work to others and evaluate their performance. It’s the first time you’re required to get your work to some degree accomplished through others and not doing it yourself. You’re tasked with delegating work to others and encouraged to coach and give constructive feedback to your team members. This role introduces you to employee motivation principles, how to run meetings properly, and development of your group and individual communication skills.    XRoad  3-Supervising Others   If you’ve successfully demonstrated to your superiors that you have all the skill sets in XRoads 1 & 2 then you should be ready for the this role in your career development. You’re expected to learn how to hire the right people for your work unit. You’re expected to assist your Manager in any Employee Performance Review. You’re also expected to resolve minor conflicts between two or more parties. Your primary role is to delegate to others although you may still be required to be a doer from time to time. You’re expected to make difficult decisions rather than trying to please everyone on the team. You’re the “Gatekeeper” of the organization’s culture within your team and expected to lead by example. You also demonstrate that you can identify and resolve problems effectively. You’re expected to collaborate effectively with other Business Unit (BU) personnel. Last but not least, you’re now Accountable for your teams work performance (results) and your team members behaviour (soft skills) in the workplace.    XRoad 4-Functional Business Unit Manager    First and foremost you’re expected to be Accountable for your Business Unit’s results and conducting formal Employee Performance Reviews. You’re required to be involved in the annual Strategic Business Unit budget discussions and managing your Business Unit’s budget effectively. You’re charged with ensuring everyone in your BU knows his or her responsibilities and understands the organization’s Competitive Strategic Plan. You’re expected to be an excellent communicator across all orgnizational XRoads and to understand and lead Change Management best practices. Most important, you’re expected to focus on strategic results through tactical execution of those results.     XRoad 5-Strategic Business Unit (SBU) Manager    You’re expected to develop your Business Unit Managers and assemble a strong team for succession. You oversee multiple functional BUs. You’re Responsible for developing your SBU’s Goals and communicating them with your team. You are charged with foreseeing and removing barriers to your SBU’s Goal implementation. You’re a role model for the organization’s Core Values and Guiding Principles. You’re good at balancing current and future needs, and managing complex relationships across all SBUs and a student of alternate dispute resolution mechanisms. You’re skilled at “Win-Win” problem-solving and negotiation processes. You’re adept at addressing difficult issues with the Senior Leadership Team (SLT) members. You accept Accountability for your SBU’s performance and its employee’s behaviour.   You are an expert in the work carried out by your Strategic Business Unit.   XRoad 6-Senior Leadership Team    You’re an expert on Competitive Strategic Planning and a visionary. You’re adept at understanding the world of business (business acumen). You’re good at evaluating strategy for capital allocation and deployment purposes. You’re highly skilled at managing complex relationships across the organization and with your Board of Directors (if you have one). You’re a skilled communicator with the ability to “rally the troops” around a Vision or cause. You have exceptional ability to gather the facts, the information, to get the right people in the room, and ask the right questions before proceeding with a key business decision. You lead and pay particular attention to your organization’s culture. You run a “Balanced Scorecard”, and strive to build a “Legacy” organization that you and your constituents can be proud of.  


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