Becoming a great executive requires skill sets different from those required to become a leader. To ascend to the highest roles in an organization, you need to
1. Take career risks
2. Enhance soft skills
3. Scale by building and trusting your team
To better understand why, take a 40-50 year career and divide it into 3 acts:
- Transition from individual contributor to leadership role
- Building out core skills and functional expertise (hard skills)
- Not everyone progresses at same rate or becomes a leader, but those who do end up with similar skill sets.
- Transition from leader to executive role
- Growth is slower in this phase because success makes people more comfortable where they are, less tolerant to risk, and less motivated to make big changes
- Stagnation comes from not reinventing yourself and adopting the new skill sets that are required
- Seek new experiences and venture outside comfort zone to grow
- Superior soft skills are required because relationship-building, listening, and conflict resolution skills become much more important
- Invest in finding the right people and trusting your team
- Begin second career without previous financial/personal limitations
The stage where leaders become executives is naturally a slower career progression. By mastering and being proactive in applying these skills, you can take your career to the next level.