Think about the organization you're in right now. As you're aware, the leadership and the responsibilities of the president are very different from the leadership of a front-line staff member. Large organizations often have five levels of leadership, each requiring a different balance of the four clusters of skills. Smaller organizations might have a blend of these levels. As we go through these levels, I want you to do two things. First, think about where you are now. Which of these levels describes your current role? And second, which level describes where you aspire to be? By doing this, you can identify your leadership development plan.
At Level 1, you're an individual contributor who focuses on self-leadership. You're responsible for producing the work for which you were hired and getting along with others. As an example, let's follow Serena's career at KinetEco. She began as an entry level employee at one of the national retail stores. As an individual contributor, Serena's focus was inward. She developed her reputation for getting things done, being a good team member, and being a pleasure to work with. Because she also wanted to be promoted, she honed her business and industry knowledge and built key relationships within the organization. At Level 2, you're either an expert or a manager. First, let's look at the expert, where you become the best at what you do and work on more complex projects.
For example, Serena displayed a talent for showcasing merchandise and she was asked to design the store's plan for new product rollouts. As an expert, you'd want to further develop your craft, innovating on current projects to demonstrate your readiness to tackle more challenging ones. Second is the manager, which involves leading others. Serena was in fact promoted to store manager. She continued to shine by achieving sales outcomes, developing her staff, navigating the structures of national headquarters and innovating ways to improve her store.
At this level, you'll focus on on further building your skills in the four areas, paying special attention to your weaknesses. You'll also want to maximize the talent of your team. And think strategically about how you and your team can contribute to the organization's goals. Level 3's are leaders who lead other leaders. Your role now shifts to training and developing the Level 2's on their managing and leading skills. This position is critical to the success of the organization as research shows that people leave a boss, not a company. Poor managers have a huge and damaging impact because they leave high turnover and disengagement, as well as low morale and productivity in their wake. Serena was promoted to a Regional Director position, where she supervised all of the store managers.
She mentored and engaged her leaders, so they, in turn, could mentor and engage their employees. She became known for her ability to motivate and professionally develop people in sales. As a Level 3 leader, you'll want to refine your communication skills, acting as a reliable conduit for information to flow quickly up and down the organization. You'll have to further develop your business acumen and organizational strategy, so you can anticipate and develop new leadership opportunities. Level 4's are the leaders of the functions or divisions, like marketing, finance, or sales. You would maximize the contributions of all the groups within that function and strategize the development of the function as it relates to the future of the whole organization.
Serena's success at leading her region has led to a role at headquarters as the Vice President of National Sales. She now looks across and outside the organization to build competitive strategy and ensure long-term growth. At Level 4, you'd continue to mentor and engage your direct reports, build key relationships both within and outside your organization, deepen your knowledge of other functions, and attune to key factors that will shape the future of the industry and market. At Level 5 is the leader of the organization, such as the president or CEO.
This role manages all the functional leaders but the primary responsibility is setting the vision and strategy to ensure the future of long-term success of the organization. When Serena steps into this role, she would want to build a team that brings other strengths and expertise to the table. She'd empower her functional leaders to innovate solutions, create a culture that motivates employees at all levels by sharing her vision for the future, and strive to be at the front edge of industry national and global trends. Take stock of your current level and make notes of two things. First, think about what skills you need to hone to maximize your potential. You may want to revisit the handout where you rated your leadership skills to identify top priorities.
Second, consider the next level above you and identify what skills you need to develop to prepare for that level.
- What is leadership, and when are you leading?
- Mapping your leadership competencies
- Dealing with changing scope and stakes
- Motivating and engaging others
- Increasing team performance
- Developing political acumen
- Creating a culture of trust and integrity
- Developing resilience<br><br>
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