During the last 90 days, more and more senior leaders have been discussing with me about how to help a functional leader become an enterprise level leader. At the same time, many middle managers who want to be a future senior executive have talked with about the exact same subject. While there are no quick fixes to this challenge, there are three key concepts that I have observed when people transition from being a functional leader to a successful enterprise level leader.
First, the best enterprise level leaders know that diagnosing a problem is as important as solving a problem. Therefore, they follow the advice of Roger Martin in his June 2007 article in the Harvard Business Review called “How Successful Leaders Think” by asking the following three questions:
- What are the salient factors to take into consideration?
- What is causing what? i.e. an analysis of causality.
- What is the correct decision architecture to deploy?
The answers to these three questions give them a framework to making the right decision rather than simply rushing in to solve the immediate problem. In essence, these questions help them see the bigger picture and understand the impact of making a decision.
Second, the best enterprise level leaders recognize that commitment is a mindset more than it is an action. Beginning with the perspective that awareness is not understanding, the best enterprise level leaders are focused on creating a strategic level mindset in everyone who has to develop and execute a strategic plan. They agree with Bill Gore when he wrote, “Commitment, not authority, produces results.” Therefore, they are constantly seeking out ways to help people be better committed to the mission of the organization.
Third, the best enterprise level leaders know that competency is not mastery. Many people can do things in a competent manner. But those who are committed to mastery understand that there are never really experts, only people who commit a life time to constant learning of the fundamentals and the willingness to take risks to achieve a higher performance. With intentionality and continual practice, the best enterprise level leaders are always willing to be the beginner. Continual progress is the foundation of all they do.
The goal of becoming an enterprise level leader is a worthy one. The goal of becoming one of the best takes profound depth of character and commitment. The path is not easy but it is worthwhile. I hope the above helps you as you move forward in your career or if you are coaching some one in their career journey.