We’ve all known senior leaders, vice presidents and chief officers of corporations who have achieved high levels within their organizations, and yet have not reached the pinnacle of being known as truly great leaders. They have come far based on natural talents, acumen, hard work, perseverance, planning, and sometimes by coercing, bullying, and demanding. Yet, they are not recognized as positive, influential leaders and role models in their industries, their communities, or even in their own lives. It is important to ask why this may be and what a senior leader or executive can do to continue growing and developing leadership competence even if they are at the top of an organization.
Often executives have a hefty amount of natural leadership talent, which they have relied upon to carry them to within reach of becoming known as a great leader. Relying on that natural ability without recognizing the need for continuous growth, learning, and development may be the problem. Some people pay so much attention to growing a business, that they stop working to develop themselves as a person and a leader. Sending an executive back to workshops and courses in “leadership 101” is not a viable option. The executive would likely feel belittled and would close their minds to any learning from such a course. Instead, executives often gain more from leadership immersion retreats, self-awareness exploration guided by a private coach, or working with a peer advisory or mastermind group made up of others at a similar level within their own organizations.
Executives who are open-minded, understand their own need for continuous growth and leadership development, and who know that leadership is a life-long journey can also benefit from 360-degree assessments. These assessments can be administered in a way that protects the privacy of those who are rating the leadership competence of the executive, and can provide valuable insight into how others view the executive compared to how the individual perceives herself or himself. Often this is eye opening as executives discover that they are not as aware as they thought about the way they come across to those they seek to lead. Participating in a 360-degree assessment and then working with a coach or mastermind group to reflect on the results and make progress on the leadership pathway can be the missing link to reaching the peak.