Quite often we interview candidates who have received executive titles from their current or previous employers, yet are nevertheless not a match for a company who can offer the candidate more structure and security. This arises for a number of reasons.  One of these is that better companies have enhanced opportunities to recruit candidates who meet their ideals.  Secondly, companies with better structure and stability recognize that constructability and construction process knowledge is important, but other traits are needed as well.  For instance, leaders who possess communication, organizational and leadership skills like accountability, the ability to motivate others and decision-making capabilities possess traits that not only can build buildings, but develop, expand and stabilize organizations to ride the storms of life’s wavering economy.

The Communication, Organization and Leadership skills sought and offered from top industry executives include the ability understand profits and losses not merely from a project prospective, but also from an overall divisional or corporate perspective, with the ability to gauge the spreadsheet side of P & L, viewing the people, process and risk management sides as part of the driving factors for success.

The communication skills sought-after executives typically possess include mutual respect for everyone irrespective of how they are treated.  Their mindset is not set on showing the person “what they know”, but rather demonstrating appropriate behavior while obtaining the needed information, work, or product from that person in control of it, in order to move the project or company forward towards the desired results.

Although you will not see these individuals berating others, they can hold people accountable and have no problem getting their point across without emotional tantrums rearing their ugly heads.

These individuals also have a professional vocabulary.  They understand and use proper industry and business terminology.  They don’t throw “f-bombs”, and instead speaking in an authoritative manner while not “losing their cool”.

Another way these Executives communicate effectively is by knowing to “complain up” on the organizational chart, but to do so with solutions.  They know that despite how much they admire the people they are entrusted to lead, they filter what is shared with them. They understand that despite lonely at the top, associates in other roles are filtering the information for a different perspective, and also may have different priority scales.

The top executives always show support for ownership and the other executives despite what stage in resolution the unfavorable act or decision is, unless they are asked to do something unethical, in which case they hold to their standards of integrity.  They understand business evolves with time, and that the “then” and “now” may not be the final outcome.

How do you get beyond merely having an executive title to actually being an Executive, delivering value to your ownership group and the people you are entrusted to lead?

Always be learning. 

We notice the top professionals are constantly striving to be better at their game.  They do this by asking poignant questions and gaining knowledge from others at all levels to be prepared for challenges that inevitably come on a daily basis.  They also invest time and effort into continuing education, particularly with technology and soft skills.

Learn to Self-Diagnose.

Don’t wait for someone above or below you to comment on areas on which you could use improvement.  If they do comment, take it as constructive criticism.

If you are week on technology, learn from your team and from the many on-line courses, free videos and classes available to you.  Too often executives lose their jobs due to their inability to document and manage in today’s technology world.

If you have behavioral challenges, work on knowing your motivators and stressors and learn to recognize the triggers to your stressors, as well as possible reactions that others may see as unfavorable.  Your motivators may not be shared by others, so learning how others can be motivated differently for results improves your leadership abilities. The DiSC workplace profile, management profile and other assessment tools can aid in your growth with communication with others in all positions within your company and the outside professionals you participate with.

If organizational skills are your challenge, then you should take more time to plan and more time to refer back to your plan to track results.  This requires slowing your clock down and making time to focus on your shortcomings.  Organizational skills refer to your ability to stay focused on different tasks, and use your time, energy, strength, mental capacity, and physical space effectively and efficiently in order to achieve the desired outcome. Some people take advantage of today’s technology to do this and with a combination of Outlook, Google, or another reminder system to set reminders and task lists.  Others do it with a combination of technology and ongoing lists of priorities, or with help from others.  Most of us at the executive level never run out of things to do, or add to the list so we learn to categorize in must complete by and then schedule out time to complete the item with time built in or back up in case an unexpected event takes place.   Staying organized regardless of the tools you have to work with is learned with time.

Lastly, always have mentors that love you enough to be blatantly honest with you.  These individuals may or may not have the same professional background as you, but are recognized business professionals who you can freely open up to with challenges, goals, aspirations and they can help you navigate through the reality of your situation.  Many executives join tech groups or peer groups, or initiate relationships where a reciprocal dialogue can take place.

John Maxwell, Leadership Coach –
“Leadership is not about titles, positions or flowcharts. It is about one life influencing another.”

In his book “Seven Steps to Success” He sums it up this way:

  1. Make a commitment to grow daily.
  2. Value the process more than events.
  3. Don’t wait for inspiration.
  4. Be willing to sacrifice pleasure for opportunity.
  5. Dream big.
  6. Plan your priorities.
  7. Give up to go up.”

Live to Lead,

Suzanne Breistol