People often cultivate an air of mystique about the type of person it takes to be in a senior leadership role. Abby Vige bursts that bubble…
Influencing up is about taking ownership of yourself and not waiting for things to be handed to you no matter how lowly or isolated your role is. There is always a way to move forward and add value.
I have summarised the key takeaways that I deployed early on my career, they serve as valuable reminders in any role that I am in.
1.Spot things in your team that could do with streamlining or improving #efficencyprogrammes
2. Don’t overlook the basics like creating tools and templates – this can be gold #bigdata #storytelling
3. Do your time, do the churn and take each opportunity as it comes #rollyoursleevesup
4. Get organised. We are all busy, you need to get efficient with your time #productivityhacks
5. Pick a senior that you can trust and test ideas with them, they can be your biggest ambassador #squadgoals
People are people no matter what their job title is or how senior they are, this seems so obvious! but many of us have cultivated an air of mystique about what type of person it must take to be in such a senior role. It’s worthwhile to take a moment to put them into slow motion in order to unpack what’s actually going on.
The slowmo replay
We all recognise this scenario, the most senior person in a organisation walks through an office in close proximity. You’ve never spoken to them, never been introduced to them, you are just one of oodles of people that they manage. In many instances they will most likely know your name but your day to day jobs don’t require any personal interaction. They waft through the office almost like an apparition. The air of leadership. The manager has landed.
How it’s interpreted
When I have mentored people coming up through the ranks, I have noticed that they often hold these people in such reverence. They make bold assumptions about the life they must have lead, the number of degrees they must hold and how super duper busy they must be. It’s often stated “…there’s no way I could do that job…” And so I ask them, what makes you think this? They say “well because they have such a high level job and so much responsibility, they must have so much technical knowledge and experience, their job must be insane”. While some of this is usually true, it does the manager a disservice. Is a titanic sized shipload of technical knowledge where the value lies? Are these the most valuable things they can teach us?
Bursting the bubble
When you slow the manager down, view and accept that they are a person just like the rest of us, the reverence bubble will pop. In the demystifying the senior manager we can begin to see what really matters, and what matters is knowing how they human and what they learned in order to get to where they are.
These are the questions we should be asking.
- What things have happened in your life that have given the capability to be able to do this role that you’re in?
- What have you learnt about yourself along the way?
- What does stress feel like to you? How does it present, what brings it on and what do you do?
- How do you manage competing time priorities?
- What did you try that didn’t work? What did you try that did work?
The answers to these questions lay out a path that maps the journey of experience. A degree isn’t going to teach you instincts about your business, a degree can be important but it doesn’t teach you about resilience that is crafted and learned over time. The technical expertise is not what makes most senior managers, it’s the life skills.
Behind the veil
Senior managers need to challenge themselves to pull aside the curtain and be open to people about what they’ve done in their life to build the person that is the leader before them.
From this point, people can make an accurate assessment about what type of calibre it takes to be in a certain role and whether those skill sets suit their strengths, their values and their aspirations.
Get away from the technical and focus on the human.