[September 6, 2013] Whether you are the CEO of a large commercial firm, the President of a university, the head of an international non-profit organization, or a General/Flag officer in the military, you are a “senior executive” and by definition a “leader”. Does this make you the “top dog”, the “old man”? Well…yes.
There are also many positions immediately subordinate to and part of the senior leadership team that are senior executive leaders. CFOs, COOs, Senior Vice Presidents, Deputy General/Flag officers immediately come to mind. These folks are vital in large organizations, especially those geographically diverse.
You don’t have to be a senior executive leader to possess and use the traits necessary for success in this complex environment. All of us can learn those traits and hone our skills through experience. Experience, the long developmental process, and intellect of the fundamentals of leadership, are a must to exceeding expectations and moving ahead.
We could say the senior executive leader is the “Captain of the Ship” as it is steered in the stormy seas of ever evolving, changing, large, complex organizations. While an appropriate metaphor, it masks the reality of what it takes to actually steer the ship in the direction of success. This leads us to the attributes of the senior leader (another future post).
What the senior executive leader is not, can also be helpful. This person is not a junior or mid-level manager, technician, project manager, or colonel. Not surprisingly, those in these positions may one day be the captain of the ship and most certainly will display the attributes and talents for senior leadership. Their current level of responsibility however is limited by design yet they should all aspire to be senior executive leaders.
Are you a senior executive leader if you are the owner of a small business or the manager of a satellite section located away from the primary headquarters? In my opinion, no. Not to be discouraged; while senior executive leadership attributes will be helpful to you, they won’t necessarily be the reason for your success.