The time when you most need to evolve your leadership, is often when there are 10,000 things demanding your immediate attention. But, if you don’t attend to developing your most critical leadership competencies, the 10,000 things aren’t going to matter.
Leaders of the most wildly successful companies possess a core set of abilities that go beyond technical excellence into strategic, interpersonal and visionary brilliance. Young executives in the tech and biotech sectors, in particular, often need to evolve the following competencies to become optimally effective in maturing their companies:
- Personal balance
- Visionary brilliance and purposeful strategy
- Interpersonal intelligence
- Courageous authenticity and personal integrity
- Systems thinking
Nurturing these core competencies early in the life of a company can play an important role in its success. Read on to find out how these 5 areas are especially critical to young, emerging or rapidly growing companies, particularly in the fields of technology and biotechnology.
Personal Balance is the foundation upon which great performance is built. In the fast-paced, pressure filled world of emerging business, it is easy for work to take over our lives, creating an unsustainable lifestyle that eventually drains us of the energy and engagement our companies most need. When this happens, we can find ourselves struggling with overload, diminished passion and purpose, work/life imbalance and the very real potential for burnout.
This area of leadership development is so critical that I offer an 8-week targeted coaching program specifically for identifying and implementing key work and lifestyle changes to plug energy leaks and restore personal balance.
Visionary Brilliance and Purposeful Strategy
Balance allows space for perspective; with broader perspective comes stronger vision and clearer strategy. Vision and Strategy are what translate dreams into reality. A brilliant leader creates an expansive vision that embodies the highest values and aspirations of the organization. A brilliant vision encompasses the whole of current reality which is creatively transformed via purposeful strategy, into a concrete-yet-flexible map to the company’s future.
Perhaps nowhere are visionary brilliance and purposeful strategy more important than in an early-stage or emerging company in a rapidly evolving technical field. Without question, the leadership component of creating clarity and focusing on long-term objectives is critical to success. A environment in which the leader lacks vision and strategy is not only a waste of energy, but actually forsakes the “bottom line.”
The set of skills comprising interpersonal intelligence is the single biggest component separating truly exceptional leaders from those who are merely good enough. Interpersonal Intelligence encompasses listening, compassion and empathy, insight, conflict management and emotional self-regulation.
Nowhere is the phrase “What got you here, won’t get you there” more true than in the area of interpersonal intelligence. Leaders of young companies are often technical and tactical experts, but may be less developed in skillful interpersonal interactions. As a company matures, the ability of its leader to connect with, inspire and empower his or her employees translates directly to engagement, productivity and creativity. Interpersonal intelligence reaches beyond employees, and into the entire web of stakeholders; employees, customers, suppliers, investors and communities.
Courageous Authenticity and Personal Integrity
The capabilities most closely aligned to sustainable performance and leadership effectiveness are personal integrity and courageous authenticity. Taken together, they are at the heart of what defines “Authentic Leadership” and are the best predictors of a leader’s ability to consistently get the best from an organization.
A leader who possesses these characteristics will take action according to their own and the company’s highest values and greatest good, even in the face of pressure or unpopularity. They are willing to bring up “the elephants in the room” that lead to a culture of fear and secrecy which can be fatal to a young company. By being willing to admit vulnerabilities, these leaders create an environment where it is safe to push boundaries and learn from failures and mistakes. This is especially critical in early stage companies and companies in rapidly changing field like technology. And finally, these two characteristics engender trust and loyalty across all classes of stakeholders, factors which can be critical to making it through tough times.
Systems thinking is “big picture” thinking. In systems thinking, the focus changes from “fixing problems” to creating positive change from the foundation up. It’s the difference between treating a symptom and creating health.
The relationship between things is a greater driver of change than things themselves. Systems thinking focuses on the relationships among components of the broader structure of the company. Rather than trying evolve a company by controlling events and components of the system and structure, a good leader learns to leverage relationships within the ecosystem of the company, such that the components and culture support and sustain the evolution.
Systems thinking engenders adaptability, a faculty critical in the tech/biotech emerging company landscape. A leader who has developed this essential competency guides his or her company through the frequently chaotic waters all rapidly growing companies experience. Such leaders can anticipate and minimize unintended consequences while steering a course toward long-term, sustainable success.
Achieving excellence in these competencies requires more than mere cognitive knowledge of them. Their development requires awareness, practice, feedback and time. Without intentional effort, few leaders excel in any one, much less all of these areas. But the journey to truly authentic leadership brings both personal and professional rewards that all who have made it say is well worth the time and effort.
If you’d like to begin the journey of evolving your leadership in these areas, download my free introductory paper and guided journal, or contact me for a free 30 minute consultation to learn more about how you can develop these 5 critical leadership competencies for the benefit of your own organization.