More-Responsible Roles Require More
by Dr. Karen Otazo
Excerpted from “The Truth About
Being A Leader... and Nothing but
Leadership is a
complex mix of responsibilities and accountabilities. To lead
effectively, you need to be able to process large amounts of
information quickly and handle multiple tasks at once. In computer
terms, you need a lot of "bandwidth."
As you move up in
leadership, you may start to feel that your processing speed is
slowing down. The greater demands of a new position can expose areas
in which your skills are not fully developed. This is not a cause
for alarm, but a positive leadership challenge. The trick is to
address those areas immediately, before they steal too much mental
bandwidth from other vital parts of your job.
The following seven
areas require your constant attention:
personal work habits,
including keeping track of requests and commitments at meetings,
your schedule, and follow-up with your team and others.
Your personal mood
and stress management.
Your moods affect many other people once you are in a senior
position. As a leader, you need to do whatever it takes to respond
with objectivity to the many demands on your time and judgment so
that your stress doesn't spread across the organization.
infrastructure and systems,
which include how you deal with your budget(s); your support staff;
your organization's support functions, such as finance, human
resources, and IT; and your organization's operations functions,
such as sales, marketing, and manufacturing.
vision and strategy.
These need to be developed over time so that they have the clarity
and richness that stimulate others to move in the right direction.
Whereas management is about avoiding the problems you encounter en
route, leadership requires you to chart a string path forward for
As a leader,
you need to do whatever it takes to respond with objectivity to the
many demands on your time and judgment.
relationships with your leadership team members.
Good working relationships are the most effective way for you to
implement your leadership agenda.
relationships with peers and colleagues.
These impact upon the goodwill and trust that are vital for
effective working. Cross the white space on your organization chart
by connecting with others and keeping them informed.
relationship with your boss,
whether a board, a matrix of bosses, or just one, is crucial to your
success. (But no more so than any of the other areas, so beware of
the temptation to attend to your boss(es) before all else!)
Inability to focus
at meetings, getting easily frustrated, not attending to important
follow-up, and ignoring key players are all signs that you're
overwhelmed by your job, and that your bandwidth needs attention.
The easiest way to
broaden your bandwidth is to strengthen your support systems. Can
you designate someone as your second-in-command? Having such a
person, known colloquially as your "2IC," is not only important for
you but also a great learning opportunity for a direct report.
But don't make the
same mistake as the leader who selected a business manager several
rungs below him. The manager wound up filling in for his boss in
situations that were way over his head, with negative consequences.
It's vital for your own credibility that the people you use are
right for their positions.
Remember that all
areas of your leadership role need your attention. Neglected areas
will inevitably trip you up when the demands of your new role put
your bandwidth to the test.