This is a guest blog by Pamela A. Scott
Are you doing what it takes to earn a leadership role at your firm?
A few years ago, I was working with a team of senior project managers (PM). The training program was “From PMs to Business Leaders.” In our first session, I asked them to list the job requirements for a PM and for a business leader. The list for the PMs was quite long. The list for a business leader had just a couple bullets on it.
One PM looked at the lists and said, “If our executive team members were killed in an accident, we wouldn’t even know how to turn off the lights.” Bingo!
How equipped are you to take on a leadership role at your firm? Below are three critical capabilities necessary to become a leader.
1) Network With Intention
Networking — building relationships — is a must for leaders. Even during COVID and even if you’re a raging introvert. Just collecting business cards and hanging with friends at networking events is not enough to reach leadership status.
Networking with a purpose means you have a strategy and goals. Is your objective to connect with five people through LinkedIn? Who are the key contacts that you want to meet with via Zoom or a phone call? Prepare for whatever the future normal will be.
Here are the leadership skills and abilities you’ll develop by networking with intention:
- Build self-confidence
- Get comfortable making small talk
- Be able to introduce yourself to strangers
- Ask meaningful questions and carefully listen to the replies
- Build your network of peers as well as potential clients and employees
2) Master Critical Thinking Skills
I can’t tell you how many times weak thinking skills have derailed someone’s career progression. It’s sad, because you can grow your ability as a critical thinker. It’s not surprising then that critical thinking is one of the most in-demand soft skills among employers, with demand rising 158% in three years.
What do I mean by critical thinking skills? I love the way this website puts it: Critical thinking is the opposite of regular, everyday thinking. This is put-on-your-thinking-cap thinking.
There are several models for critical thinking. I like how Zarvana.com presents it. The four stages are:
- Execute: Translates instructions into action and does what is asked
- Synthesize: Identifies what’s important and combines them to create new insights
- Recommend: Determines a sensible path forward, taking alternatives into consideration
- Generate: Produces new thinking that illuminates previously uncharted paths
Zarvana also has a critical thinking roadmap, a tool I encourage clients to use when mentoring staff.
Enhancing your critical thinking skills will keep analysis paralysis at bay and help you demonstrate your leadership skills.
3) Show Initiative
I hear CEOs complain about this all the time: “Why doesn’t someone step up and show initiative?” A CEO relies on a team of people to help the firm reach goals and grow. A CEO can’t do it all alone. That’s where you come in.
Leaders show initiative. The Free Dictionary defines initiative like this: The power or ability to begin or to follow through energetically with a plan or task; enterprise, and determination.
Here are five ways you can do just that:
- Volunteer to lead a team.
- Use your critical thinking skills to find a process that isn’t efficient and make it better.
- Find a mentor; be a mentor.
- Step in when a team needs more help.
- Identify future leaders and find ways to help them grow.
If you need more ideas, check out the very extensive list at ThriveYard.
The point is a leader will stand up and take responsibility for fixing something that’s broken. A leader brings new ideas and executes them to benefit fellow employees and the firm.
The CEO will appreciate your effort. Trust me.
Developing these skills intentionally will set you up for that leadership role you aspire to achieve.
About the Author Pamela A. Scott
Pam is an executive coach to CEOs and business owners, focusing on communication, managing people, leadership, and emotional intelligence. Her tagline says it best: “Numbers may drive the business, but people drive the numbers.”®
Pam started her company more than 20 years ago. For much of that time, Pam has coached engineers and architects to be leaders in their companies.
She brings more than 25 years of communications expertise and leadership experience as
- A national award-winning newspaper editor
- A communications specialist writing for Congress
- A successful entrepreneur specializing in coaching clients to reach their full potential
Clients have ranged from solo practitioners to companies such as Turner Broadcasting System, Coca Cola, Federal Reserve Bank, and engineering firms such as Walter P. Moore. For 15 years, Pam was a member of Vistage, an international organization of CEOs.
Pam has a master’s in education and human development from George Washington University and a bachelor’s in communication from Bethany College. In Toastmasters, she has achieved Advanced Communicator Bronze and Advanced Leadership Bronze levels.
We would love to hear any questions you might have or stories you might share about developing leadership skills.
Please leave your comments, feedback or questions in the section below.
To your success,
Anthony Fasano, PE, LEED AP
Engineering Management Institute
Author of Engineer Your Own Success