How to transition into a strategic roles ?
You got the strategic role you were aiming for.
Took a lot from you with the entire top brass quizzing whether you are the right fit.
You came on top of the 9 box with outstanding potential and performance.
You let out a sigh of relief and try to be jubilant.
Some days pass and then it hits you.
Whatever worked for you before is no longer working.
Whatever you do is not enough.
Sometimes you don't know what to do even. And nobody tells you what.
There is a constant feedback to "dial-up" your executive presence, your change agenda, your vision and action.
You are new to the management committee and there is skepticism all around on whether you deserve a place.
You are not able to place your finger on what needs to be changed. It's over whelming after long days.
Well, most executive coaching interventions that I do, have a manager check-in after goal setting for leaders in transition. After I work through the goals with the coachee, when the manager comes in for the tri-partite agreement - its always a revelation.
The manager talks about building influence, visibility, brand, executive presence etc that are important for strategic role while the coachee is still enhancing the goals for the previous operational role.
Building the bridge is highly important here. The rules of the game change and if not handled well can push a person out of their resourceful best. (Pennington, 2003).
Transitions are hard zones of discomfort for the person in transition. There is internal work to be done before the external changes manifest. Whenever we make changes that affect the core of our identity and are radical, it's going to cause high disturbance (Pennington,2003).
There is a also sense of urgency to the transition as the window of opportunity for change shrinks considerably after 90 days.
What can ease the transition?
1. Preparation: If you know you have a chance to move up into a strategic role, prepare beforehand. More on this in my previous blog here.
While preparation may fall short sometimes, it will still give you the confidence that you are getting there. Most often, that's what you need to sail through the initial period of upheaval.
2. Make friends with increasing levels of entropy: A strategic level role calls for acknowledgement, acceptance and thriving in increasing levels of entropy. While the previous operational role recognised you for reducing entropy, a strategic role will demand that you learn to thrive inspite of it. So embrace the unknown, tolerate the known evil and look forward to making tomorrow better than today. Moving from "frozen" entropy to "creative" entropy may look like sailing in the storm. However keep at it. Working on your "risk-taking" ability will keep you afloat.
3. Start with "Why", then define "what": Defining the direction, deriving goals and measuring progress are all part of the role. While deriving goals and tracking may appear more comfortable due to familiarity bias, invest time and energy in why and what. More on developing foresight here.
4. Communicate clearly & act consistently: Clarity in your head needs to translate into clarity in speech and action. When your head, heart and hand work together, there is an alignment that is hard to miss for anyone. In terms of character, this is called "integrity" and is vital for being influential.
5. Co-create with your team: You need not be the one person who has all the answers. Work with your team and co-create your vision and action plan.
6. Don't forget to take care of the magic ingredient - "You": Even though the seat of visible action is your job, there are contributing leading indicators - your physical health, mental health, spiritual health and connections. Create/Steal time to take care of yourself. This is fundamental to have the presence of mind to calls shots run time. Discipline in this area will let you do point 2 well. Most successful leaders that I have worked with are successful because they have a morning routine (including physical activity, meditation & spiritual practices) that helps them to be their best.
7. Self-disclosure: Human beings respond to "humanness". Share your vulnerability, your values, the cause that you like to lend your voice for and what it means to you personally to get the vision to reality (Johari Window).
What served you to transition into strategic roles?