This is the second of the areas in which you need to excel identified by Debbie Benton in CEO Material. It comprises six elements.
Feeling broadly adequate
Many people have problems with this one. Is broadly adequate enough? Surely it’s the outstanding people who get to the top? I suggest that isn’t really so. Indeed there are some absolutely outstanding managers and CEOs, but actually not all that many. If a group of middle managers were asked to name the most outstanding manager they know, I suspect that only a few names would be on each of their lists. Is your boss outstanding? Is your boss’s boss outstanding? (You do not have to share these thoughts with them!).
Debra Benton suggests that if you accept that you are broadly adequate, you have reason to feel quite self-confident, and self-confidence is what you need.
In her book, CEO Material, Debbie Benton identifies 16 areas on which you should work if you want to be regarded as CEO material. The first of these is Craftsmanship, which is a concept not generally used with reference to managers. A craftsmen is more often a skilled manual worker, who gains the ‘craftsman’ title by being especially skilled at his/her job. The author identifies four areas of managerial skill in which you should make yourself extremely competent. Let’s check them out.
Having a good track record
I don’t think too many people would disagree with this one. Success breed success in the climb to the top of the managerial ladder. But this is not so straightforward as it might appear. It is possible to be seen as ‘skilled’ if you avoid any serious stuff-ups as a junior manager. But Ms Benton, in common with many writers on management, suggests that the way to get noticed is to do something, rather than not doing something. In other words, toeing the party line and playing ultra-cautious is actually not the way to get noticed – to be seen as having a good track record. On the contrary, doing things successfully is what gets you noticed.
DA Benton, McGraw-Hill, 2009
Debra Benton is a successful consultant and author, with a long list of top drawer clients. She has previously written best-selling books including Executive Charisma, and How to Act like a CEO.
This book is sub-titled ‘How to be a Leader in any Organization‘ but could almost be sub-titled ‘Debra’s Book of Lists,’ because each chapter contains lists of characteristics and is filled with exhortations of what you should do if you want to to be regarded as a potential CEO. In her Conclusion chapter she actually lists 365 things you should do – one for each day of the year – to get yourself regarded as potential CEO material.
The author follows the same approach in each chapter. First, she gives a short bulleted list of key elements in the chapter topic. This bulleted list generally contains three points, each of which becomes a section heading a little later on. A couple of these lists are slightly longer. Then she lists the behaviors that a budding CEO should exhibit to demonstrate competence in the topic area. The list for Chapter 1 Have a Good Track Record, for example identifies 20 such behaviors, though this is the longest list in the book. Read the rest of this entry »
The Socialized Mind – an Example
In the last posting I talked of the way children are socialized when they are young. This also happens in business, with even more pernicious results. Let me share a story with you.
Many years ago, I was consulting to a large Asian conglomerate – name withheld to protect the guilty. One of the responsibility areas of my specific client contact was international recruitment. My client contact spent a lot of time – and company money – traveling the world talking to young nationals who were on the verge of graduating. His purpose was to entice these national graduates – from the best business schools in Europe and America – to return to their homeland and work for this company.
That is fair and fine.
In the previous postings, we explored the authors’ concept of levels of mental complexity. This was a new concept to me, and it probably is to you too, so we should explore it a bit further, because it is important to understand it since the rest of the book is based on it.
The following table explains the concept in a bit more detail:
The Three Adult Plateaus Described
So what does all that mean?
In the previous posting we introduced one of the key foundation ideas of the book Immunity to Change, which was the concept of the three levels of mental complexity. The concept needs further exploration.
The bulk of the population are on or around the second plateau, the self-authoring mind, the characteristics of which are:
Moving through the Levels
The thinking at level 1 is very concrete – very black and white. As one moves to levels 2 and 3, the landscape becomes much greyer.
Immunity to Change is a meaty book, as befits the results of the 25 years of practical experience of the authors. But note the word ‘practical’. Although the authors are academics, they have clearly spent a long time in the real world and they have come up with a very interesting approach which has the potential to bring about some serious changes in thinking in managerial and HR circles.
They introduce two new concepts very early in the book, an it is important that these are understood before you can get the most out of the bulk of the book.
Promote yourself to propel yourself
If this sounds like an invitation to play trills on your own trumpet, you need to think again. Larina Kase makes a very valid point when she says: ‘We need to overcome the fear of self-promotion because research has shown that visibility and connections are the most powerful predictors of promotions. This means that you can be the best person in the world at what you do, but if your results are the world’s best kept secret, you will be too.’
If you blow your own trumpet, you are seen as a bragger. So? Have someone else blow your trumpet and one of the best ways to ensure that this happens is to find a business need within your organization and fill it – and do a good job. Then people will notice you and do your bragging for you. Read the rest of this entry »