Unveiling the Truth: Navigating the Nuances of Senior Management. Gain insights into the unexpected challenges and rewards of leadership.
Stepping into senior management brings unexpected surprises and overwhelming responsibilities. As you ascend the corporate ladder, you’ll encounter nuances and challenges not found in textbooks.
This article explores these topics, revealing hidden truths about leadership. From decision-making to strategic management, we’ll uncover the multifaceted nature of senior leader roles.
You can’t blame senior management for everything anymore, and you learn why you never should have.
Becoming senior management means you can no longer blame what you perceive as corporate mistakes (or anything you don’t like about work) on senior management. Suddenly, you are senior management and hold the cards. The decisions are yours, and your decisions will not please everyone.
You realize that you cannot optimize every aspect of the company to meet every goal. Some of the goals have inherent conflicts. You are privy to a set of facts and data that only you and your team, and sometimes only you need to manage. With that data, you will make a decision that optimizes what is most important. And some people will be disappointed. It will look like a mistake to them. But no one else knows all the factors that went into your decision.
You must get used to looking out of touch, while the truth is that you are looking at a wider lens than others in the company have access to seeing. Suddenly, you rethink those times you complained about decisions that worked against your line P&L, and you realize senior management wasn’t dumb after all. Becoming a senior manager makes you rethink your opinion of every leadership team you ever worked under.
Organizations and employees don’t always grow in the same direction, at the same rate.
Another hard thing is making decisions about employees who have either been promoted above their ability or whose job effectiveness has changed due to new technology or partnerships. They may be marginalized through no fault of their own but remain key employees because they are well-regarded and influential. For their part, these employees can become frustrated and angry about the company. You want to find a way to keep them happy, but you can’t turn back the clock.
The difficult decision is whether to tip your hand that this individual may be looking at a severance package if they don’t accept the way things stand now and are open to new possibilities. If you don’t share this information, getting the kind of attitude change you need is rare. If you do, you will lose the employee. Maybe not soon or physically, but they will become disengaged.
This decision never gets easier, and the results rarely change. The few times I have done this successfully, it was with key employees intellectually curious enough to join a new field within the organization and enjoy a steep learning curve while applying their senior management skills. This issue is going to become more prevalent in the next three to five years as new skills for managing AI move up the chain of command. My hope is that brighter people than me can figure out a systematic way to address the issue better.
There are tons of resources available to make you a better speaker. You must learn the hard way how to become a great listener.
You get trained in public speaking, and the value of projecting confidence as a leader. But one of the things you don’t get trained in but must learn the hard way up the management ladder is the value of listening. In senior management, where everybody wants to tell you about what they are doing, being able to listen and ask questions is what is important. When you don’t have to care what other people think, it frees your head space for you to listen to, understand, analyze, and react to what others are saying! I wish I had learned this enormously freeing truth earlier!
Early, I would be distracted worrying whether my questions or comments would cause people to judge me. As I grew in my career, I learned people around the table had these same conversations with themselves in their heads. There are no dumb questions. We all need to worry less about being judged and more about listening.
You don’t HAVE to waste time in meetings.
You can say: “Unless you can prove to me that this meeting is not a waste of my time, I won’t attend.” If someone asks for your time, you have a right to know the objective in advance to prepare. You have a right to know why you are being invited and understand what you will be asked to contribute. After the meeting, you deserve to understand what follow-up you are accountable for as a result, when it is due, and how it fits into the objective of the group. This is not a pet peeve because wasting your time in meetings means wasting the company’s money in meetings. You can also let your team know that everyone needs to feel empowered to ask that meeting time be well spent.
The team you have is the team you have.
Everyone is in their role for a reason, and they directly report to you because they have had a series of wins that got them there. It is your job to work with them to find out what their secret sauce is and how you can leverage it to the most significant advantage in their current role. Changes to senior leadership are not only expensive from a cash perspective, but they can cause a reduction in productivity and engagement and send changes throughout the organization. You may not have the team you want, but you must make best use of the team you have.
Embracing the tips above can equip you with a more comprehensive understanding of leadership. Embracing the complexities of decision-making, team dynamics, and personal growth will not only enhance your effectiveness, but also pave the way for a more impactful journey.
Amy Feind Reeves is a distinguished career coach and author of the book College to Career, Explained with a wealth of experience in guiding individuals towards achieving their professional aspirations. With a proven track record in helping individuals navigate the complexities of career development, Amy is a trusted partner for those seeking to unlock their full potential in the professional world. Recognized for her exceptional ability to connect with clients on a personal level, Amy continues to make a significant impact in the realm of career coaching.
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