We are wrapping up this series of common executive pitfalls with one of the primary culprits that cause delays in executive-level performance. Just like self-blame, facts over people, and earning your seat before you speak, the concept of prioritizing “doing” over “leading” is an action that will derail a promising executive career.
So what is this pitfall?
As we have already discussed, it takes 10 years for a woman to reach the executive ranks. We have acknowledged that those first 10 years were all about being the subject matter expert, being the problem solver, and removing barriers so the business machine could keep operating. Another way to look at that is that you were a doer or an executor.
An executor is someone who rolls up their sleeves and gets the work done. It could be actually doing the work or it could be in the trenches with the front lines observing behaviors, correcting performance, teaching, training, etc. All of these actions and more are what we would consider actions of a doer or an executor.
When you transition into an executive role, what you used to do in order to add value and improve the organization is no longer what the company needs from you. You have gone from a mid-level manager whose value is found in the act of execution, to an executive, whose value is found in leading other people and getting work done through others.
No longer are you a doer, you are now a leader. You must lead through people. You must value relationships over day-to-day business facts. This means you must use your skills of communication and influence, and own your seat/voice to improve the business.
This pitfall gets in our path for a very simple reason, you spent 10 years being an executor and it’s a hard habit to break.
We rationalize that we will just keep “doing” and executing while we learn how to exec correctly. We tell ourselves that surely we will be safe and all will be well because we know the company appreciates doers. I mean, that’s how we got to this seat in the first place.
However, all of those rationalizations and stories exist in our brains to simply mask our fears and keep us from facing the truth. The truth is that we must prepare to exec. We must step out of our comfort zone of being a doer and fully embrace being a leader.
It’s the only way to generate true executive success.
Are you still trying to be a doer? Are you telling yourself that you will add value by doing vs. leading while you learn how to own your seat and use your voice?
If you are living in any part of this space, today is the day to change this.
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