As a leader, you hold a great responsibility. You are the architect of the plan that will take your people to a better place, not just in terms of the achievement of common goals, but also in terms of the fulfillment of their basic, as well as their more complex needs as human beings.
Regardless of whether you lead a small or a large organization, for-profit or non-for-profit, a religious community or a sports club, as a leader you are ultimately responsible for certain decisions affecting other people´s lives.
People do not mess around with their livelihoods, therefore human beings only follow those who care about their needs.
Your ability to visualize joint goals, alongside your capacity to satisfy common human needs, becomes instrumental for good leadership.
But while leading people in general is always a difficult task, leading leaders is certainly a much more complex challenge.
The complexity in leading leaders resides in the fact that the needs of those who have already reached a leadership role are not necessarily related to the basic needs of the “general public”, such as financial stability, protection against unexpected adversities and sense of belonging.
People holding leadership roles expect those above them to understand their “more complex” needs. Leader’s needs have more to do with status, contribution and self-actualization, than with mere monetary compensation per se.
We all have seen examples of organizations promoting super-achievers at mid management level, to senior leadership roles.
The problem with this type of policy is that in most cases the super-achiever does not understand what it takes to manage other leaders effectively.
Super-achievers tend to struggle when promoted to C-level roles due to a variety of reasons, including:
- Inability to delegate.
- Incapability to empathize.
Working at C-level is radically different to managing a team of doers or being a super-star.
As a senior leader you will need to gain the aid and support of other leaders in order to be able to materialize common strategic goals. Otherwise you take the risk of being sabotaged very quickly.
In this article, I will recap on what attitudes and behaviors you must nurture in order to be able to lead a team of leaders.
# 1. Empower Your Team:
Once you are in a C-level role, you should no longer tell your people what to do or how to do it. You are leading leaders, so they know perfectly well the what´s and how´s.
Telling other leaders what to do or how to do it is a clear sign of your lack of confidence in their ability to lead their teams.
People in leadership roles like to feel empowered. They need to feel that those above them have full confidence in their ability to make the most out of the resources available to them.
# 2. Be Humble:
Ask your team about their opinion and incentivize open debate. Don´t impose your thoughts. Promote discussion and challenge status quo, so you give other leaders the opportunity to express their ideas too.
Humble leaders understand and apply a balance of being strong, yet gentle. They are opened to constructive criticism and innovative ideas.
Other leaders need to feel that their opinion matters and most importantly, that they are no longer compensated for what they “do”, but for their strategic contributions.
# 3. Be Coherent:
Your behavior will be permanently under scrutiny. Other leaders will incessantly judge your actions as most likely their ultimate goal is occupy your chair and that´s fine, succession plans are a key part of every organizational strategy.
It is critical that your actions are consistent with your words. Never ask other leaders to do what you cannot or you would not do yourself.
Don´t abuse your position of authority and always apply a rational judgment behind all your actions.
# 4. Be Generous:
If you are in a C-level role, make sure you share the spotlight with other leaders who may benefit from additional visibility and exposure. Give them the opportunity to shine when the right occasion arises.
Self-actualized individuals are concerned with solving problems, including helping others and finding solutions to problems in the external world. These people are often motivated by a sense of personal responsibility and ethics.
Admirable leaders come across as very personable and generous human beings; they express their self-confidence through inclusiveness and generosity.
If you don´t allow other leaders to exploit their intellectual talent and reward them for their contributions, you may soon see them break away.
Self-actualization, creativity and status are all key motivational drivers for people in leading roles. As a leader of leaders your primary responsability is to fulfill those needs.
Remember that you do not need to be the one calling all the shots anymore, that´s why you lead a team of leaders now!
I hope you enjoyed the reading. If so, don´t forget to click on “Like” and share it with others who may find it useful.
You may also like to read my recent posts on Linkedin.
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Jordi is the Managing Principal Consultant at Key Strategic Chain Solutions, a management consulting firm specializing in Executive Coaching, Organizational Strategy, Portfolio Management and Operational Excellence.