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  • Writer's pictureGladys Agwai


The Chief Executive or any Executive role is tough even if the leader is phenomenally successful and experienced. The stakes are high and the demands intense. An assumption exists that charisma, confidence, and pedigree determines executive success. It does not. According to PwC, Boards have an unrealistic and stereotypical perspective that has resulted in most Fortune 500 leaders being “charismatic six-foot-tall white men with a degree from a top university. He is a strategic visionary

with a seemingly direct-to the top career path and the ability to make perfect decisions under pressure.” Very few successful executives fit this profile. About 25% of Fortune 500 executives are

forced out costing shareholders about $112 billion per year in lost market value. It is a tough job that

can keep you up at night thinking about these top executive business and organizational challenges:

1. Managing and predicting growth

2. Scalability and innovation

3. People: diversity, hiring, engagement, accountability, leadership, performance management (cross-function teaming), work/life balance

4. Profit/Cash Flow

5. Sales/Marketing

6. Execution/Change initiatives

7. Team and Business Alignment

8. Product, customer, and growth strategies

9. Communication/Collaboration

10. Focus

As an executive, you are pressured to manage strategy, people and execution as well as keep the company or organization healthy, profitable, and growing. 2020 was an extraordinarily challenging year. Because change is inevitable and the need for change exists, 2021and beyond will continue with

challenges that can keep you up at night. You must constantly remind yourself that you are not a product of your circumstances but of your decisions. To be successful as an executive, you must consistently demonstrate your ability to be:

Decisive without the need to have all and perfect information. Sometimes a wrong decision with direction is better than no decision without direction. When making decisions, you get multiple points

of view from trusted advisors who have sound judgment and are objective. An important question to

ask yourself is, “What is the cost of my inaction?” Knowing when to delegate is also critical for executives. An executive’s focus must be on decisions that strategically impact the organization. Once

the decision is made, you must do everything to help ensure it was the right decision making it clear

that everyone is expected to be on board. And if it was a wrong decision, every executive makes mistakes. Most executives are fired due to indecision versus decision. Engaging with others for impact

and value creation while understanding key stakeholder priorities. Gaining buy-in from not only stakeholders but employees is crucial. To do so, you must understand what is important to them,

why it is important, and tying their performance to the results and incentives established. Done right

executives are 75% more successful in their roles.

Engagement requires:

-Resource optimization mapping, i.e., who needs to be on board, what are their objections,

and how to mitigate those objections and concerns.

-Awareness of your “mind viruses”which drives body language and mood. It is contagious.

-Instilling confidence in stakeholders and employees even when unpopular or uncomfortable

- Conflict management that resolves conflicting viewpoints gives everyone a voice but not

a vote. Complete consensus can be too slow and the cost too high. However, autocrat

executives do not last long.

Adapting proactively in a rapidly changing environment is one of the most critical of executive skills.

You would be 6.7 times more likely to succeed. This must be done while keeping an eye on the longterm strategic thinking by leveraging diverse sources of data and information that helps pick up on the early signals of change. Mistakes happen to everyone. How you manage mistakes will determine how successful you become. Look at them as learning opportunities and adapt accordingly. You want to have a growth mindset by learning how to be a manager of pain that turns risks into rewards and obstacles into innovation. Consistent delivery of results with follow through on commitments made is one of core essential qualities required of an executive. Setting

realistic expectations in the beginning is key. Too often ego gets in the way through overcommitment

and under performance.

When new in any role but especially executive leadership, do not immediately execute without first

understanding by reviewing prior budgets/plans, engagement with stakeholders and employees. This

can be done while rapidly assessing the business and culture to form your own perspective to appropriately realign the organization.

Success requires strong skills in organization, planning, and team building for performance not loyalty. Effective leadership is the most important aspect of a company and team success. Everything discussed is true not only for business or organizational leadership

but also how you choose to lead in your life. You must possess the below leadership qualities to lead in extraordinary ways. Are you a:

• Change agent with a vision and dissatisfaction with the present?

• Manager of pain knowing how to seize upon opportunities when unfairly advantaged?

• TEAM spirited leader with the ability to get people on board with your vision?

• Adept adapter who has shown the flexibility to adapt, an openness to feedback, and the ability to learn?

• Results oriented leader who executives on a persistent and consistent basis?

If you are lacking in any of the areas discussed, remember perfection is not expected. However,

recognizing and closing your skills gaps to achieve your business and career aspirations will determine your level of success and build the confidence required to succeed. Take action to close the gaps through self-assessment and building a skills gap roadmap. Seize on the opportunity to learn from other executives. Invest in a coach. Most successful organizations and executives leverage coaching as a standard. All are great ways to grow both personally and professionally

to help ensure you do not have mediocre growth and success but extraordinary success in your

life, business, and career. “I am not afraid of an army of lions led by a sheep. I am afraid of an

army of sheep led by a lion.” Alexander the Great.

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