Many of us will take on leadership roles within organisations as we progress in our careers. Often, our previous role will have been technical within the area we are working in.
There will be a temptation to continue to “work on the tools” and sometimes this will be required (in a crisis); however, it is often not necessary nor expected.
As somebody who has mentored many technology leaders over the past six years, there are three key areas a leader's activities can be categorised into.
This person continues to spend most of their time working within their department. They enjoy this work and can sometimes solve complex problems. However, this can also stifle those who work in the department. The person is considered a manager at best.
This person leads their area. They understand what is critical to keep their team well-regarded and can plan future work to maintain this credibility. They orchestrate activities by setting direction and empowering others. In a crisis, they are the person who can ask the right questions, as they have a broader perspective.
Working UP or ACROSS
Great leaders can extend their influence to those they report to and their manager's peers or board. They have intimate knowledge of their business and can anticipate the future direction of the market. They can communicate this clearly and simply while making supporting data available for those wishing to see it.
If you are a leader, assessing the effort and influence beyond your area or department is worthwhile.
It is likely to be an indicator of your future potential.