I like to use the analogy that in an organization, the visionary can be compared to the composer, the COO/Integrator is the symphony conductor, and each member of the leadership team is head chair of a section, like the woodwinds or percussion.
The composer may provide the music and direction, but the conductor coordinates all the sections and appears to only wave a tiny wand in the air. The music comes from the members in the trenches – the experts on each instrument.
In all of these cases, identifying, developing, and improving your talent becomes a bigger and bigger responsibility as you work your way up the ladder. But in all cases, everyone starts by learning an instrument.
Similar to the symphony, in business, the further up the ladder you go, the more you have to shift your attention to help others improve their talents and empower them to make their own contribution. This is not always an easy transition, but it is a critical one. It can be a challenge to understand that the skills it took for us to get where we are today are likely different than the skills required to get us where we need to be tomorrow.
Most of the people with whom I have assisted have worked, earned their way up the ranks, and were great technicians – so much so that they get asked to do more and more. The majority happily accepts and continues to grow and work their way up the ladder of responsibility.
In most cases, these wonderful, engaged people unknowingly hit a transition point where they need to fully embrace being the manager. This requires much less doing and much more mentoring, coaching, training, and teaching. This is where these leaders need to transition from doing to empowering others to do – from solving problems to teaching others how to solve the problems.
This shift in thinking is one of the biggest transitions that happen in individuals with whom I work. This often takes time and requires that we get the organization to a stabilized level, a point where the individual leader is not always firefighting, but actually having time to work on the business.
When we reach the point where individuals get their heads above water, we can then focus on helping them take the next step into leadership by focusing their energy on developing their teams and the talent within the organization.
I believe this transition is one of those unnoticed points in an organization’s evolution where magic happens. When senior leaders start gaining the clarity of knowing where they are going, they can embrace the idea of developing their teams by empowering these individuals to achieve success. There is no limit to what can be achieved.
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