What got you here, won’t keep you here…

Posted July 10, 2009 in Latest News & Insights

I just finished re-reading Marshall Goldsmith’s classic, What Got You Here, Won’t Get You There.  For anyone who considers themselves a “fast tracker” this is truly a must-read and really speaks to the importance of constant, ongoing feedback.  The title of his book points to the fact that leadership behaviours that allowed you to be successful at one level/stage of your career, my inhibit your ability to get to the next level.

But, it made me think, that sometimes, it’s not what we have to be doing to get to the next level that’s necessarily the most immediate problem.  Sometimes, the leadership behaviours that we have honed at one level are (mostly) useless at the level we’ve been promoted into and “what got us here, won’t keep us here” if we don’t get them on track.

In my experience, there are many areas where leaders can hit “career” bumps, but probably one of the biggest ones is in the area of influence and persuasion.  When you are in lower managment levels, you tend to be buffeted from the realities of how much selling is actually required to get support for projects/ideas/initiatives.

This is especially true if you have been in the unfortunate position to be fully isolated from this reality by your boss.  The step up to the next level – where you are the lead of a division – can be particularly eye opening.  In my opinion, one of the top skills for any senior executive is the ability to influence others.  Executive leadership is essentially a sales job.  This is particularly crucial for those who lead “non-revenue” generating or “overhead” divisions.

If you head up a cost centre, or a division that is deemed as “necessary but not sexy”, dust off your human behaviour and first year psych text books, because to get the job done you are really going to need to know how to sell your ideas and convince others.

In some situations, it’s not that “what got you here, that won’t get you there”.  In some cases, the question we need to ask ourselves is, “now that I’m here, what do I need to do to stay here?”

Happy leading!


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