Senior leaders show leadership, but how do you ensure your skills are up to par?
Senior leaders typically possess superior management skills, but in a rapidly evolving technological world, they may trail the adaptiveness of peers who grew up in the post-digital world. As you look to move into the executive ranks, are you taking steps to ensure you are in step with the latest innovation?
Skills development is one of the most important tasks you need to undertake regularly to fortify the leadership skills required to drive your business forward. Without it, you risk becoming irrelevant and ineffective. This is especially true as you seek a senior-level position, which more than ever calls for astute and keen judgment that can come from continuous training. Additional professional certification will also enhance your resume in the eyes of prospective employers.
“Great leaders know that learning never stops, whether you're the CEO or just starting out in your career. Today you need to be curious, adaptable and agile so learning and development opportunities – formal and informal – are especially critical for senior-level leaders to regularly examine and update their skills and practices. In the age of digital and data disruption, keeping up and staying ahead is key to driving strategy, effectively executing and leading high-performing teams with the latest management techniques and innovations,” says Louisa Wilson, chief marketing officer for Randstad Sourceright.
A recent study cited by Chief Learning Officer magazine showed that many leaders are not ready to shape strategy, build a high-performance culture and enhance organizational talent. These gaps may be addressed through more upskilling at the executive level.
Training can occur in several settings. Your company may provide programs aimed at fast-tracking high-potential individuals. Often, these are affiliated with succession planning for executive talent, but this can also occur at all levels of an organization. In-house programs help employers ensure they have a pipeline of qualified individuals who can move up when transitions occur.
Companies often also put their top performers through executive training programs at accredited universities such as Stanford, Wharton, IMD and Iese Business School of Spain. These organizations will help you build knowledge in finance, marketing, management strategy and other important topics you will need through your executive career.
As someone seeking to move into a leadership role, make sure you use every opportunity available to you through your employer. Not only will it help make you a more effective manager but it’s usually free of cost to you. Better yet, your employer will likely provide the time off to attend these programs.
Additionally, you may look to acquire new skills on your own. In assessing your market value, you may find a skills gap that keeps you from the ideal job. Perhaps it’s furthering technical knowledge about your industry or you need additional professional accreditation. Whatever the gap, personally investing in upskilling will likely result in tremendous returns for your career. In some cases, your business may offer tuition reimbursement. Even if it doesn’t, the knowledge you gain can be applied to roles you take on later in your career.
Beyond formal education, you can gain greater skills simply through work experience, by learning from mentors and participating in industry activities. Consider volunteering to take on additional work responsibilities that may broaden your understanding of the business and its operations. Mentors can offer lifelong advice on a range of topics ranging from managing people to winning consensus among stakeholders. Participating in trade councils and events may provide a better perspective on the trends driving your business.
Enhancing your skills can occur in a number of ways. The key is to actively seek out opportunities that will make you a better leader and keep you current to today’s dynamic workplace environment.
Three tips to help you enhance leadership skills
- Identify your weaknesses
We all have weaknesses, but to be a better leader, consider what remediation steps are needed to help you overcome these gaps. Once you have developed a plan, make time to develop additional skills to overcome your deficiency.
- Follow a T&D regimen
Make sure to regularly enroll in some type of training and development activity. As a senior-level leader, your time is stretched thin but by committing to a regimen, you are making learning a priority in your career.
- Listen to a mentee
You may already participate in a mentorship program to help younger talent develop their skills, but the relationship may be mutually beneficial. Seek the opinion of those you mentor because they may help you learn something new about your business and yourself.