People strive to develop and to attain the high ranks of corporate leadership. It can be quite rewarding at that level and occupies a high rank on the Maslow’s hierarchy of Needs. People have however gotten to the top and yet have failed to live up the billing and had to descend. Getting to the top they say, could be due to hard work, one’s political affiliation (in Africa), some family lineage or by just by stroke of luck. However maintaining the position at the top requires that one has some attributes.
After a careful analysis of materials and corporate stories, the writer has come out with these seven (7) top attributes/skills any ‘sitting’ top management or an aspiring top-ranked management should have (not in any order). For best results these attributes should be inbuilt before the climb to the top. However, it is not too late to be aware of them and work towards them if one is already at the top.
1) Understanding Technology
Technology has for the last five decades being the biggest influencer of businesses and industries. The emergence of computer and lastly internet have all provided the basis for top managers to adapt or die. From core business operations to support administrative and human resource functions, every aspect has been a victim. The top management person should ‘love’ the trending techies and be aware of how it is affecting their industry, specifically the business, the department/unit and how it can be harnessed to be of value. With the barrage of technological innovations not all would deliver optimum value. The management person should have what it takes to select what would bring the ultimate value.
Getting into this shape is first to see technology not as an antagonist but as a friend, not to be intimidated by it, but rather to put your hands to work on it.
Provision of Leadership
Every person in a management role should be in a position to lead people. This article would not attempt to talk about the difference between management and leadership as there are 1001 sources for it. For purposes of this piece, it may be used interchangeably. As there is a corporate vision all units are focused on, the management person should be able to inspire and drive his team towards it. This is in the face of both favourable and unfavourable situations. Before a developing individual gets to that leadership potential he/she should exhibit the ability for self-leadership or self-management. It is very crucial for every management potential. It is this self-management plus inter-personal skills which would be converted together to make one ready for a top management role.
Love for Learning
Every top management potential should have the ability and the penchant to learn. Lack of learning kills one’s potential to forge on and chart into new territories or do new things in old territories. This type of learning is what our MBA degrees are expected to lay foundations for. Unfortunately, once the Ghanaian gets the MBA degree it only becomes a paper to just to earn promotion or recognition at the workplace. A simple analysis of the industry they work in becomes a jail term. To develop into a top management material and to stay there, continuous learning is key. In order to disseminate information, the manager should be able to make sense of it first, and then break it down to assimilable units, which brings us to the next attribute.
Ability to pass on knowledge
When the leader has learnt something new he/she has to be able to pass it on to team members. The leader should be in a position to break down the theory they have learnt into applicable modes for team members or departments to use. Good communication, and selling skills are fundamental in achieving the above. The lack of this attribute is what makes training budgets only a drain of company’s resources. Training management members or potential managers is costly and what happens mostly is that persons attend such expensive training sessions only to add to their CVs. They might have a firm grasp of the concepts but no motivation to utilise it.
Conflict is one way diversity shows up at the work place. Diversity brings value to the organisation or the department if well harnessed. It however has the ability to ruin things for the business. Managing conflict is a skill that comes with learning how to do it. Additionally one has to be assertive and be able to deal with and say things that may be difficult. Some top management members crumble at the thought of being labelled a bad person and so run away from conflict or deal very weakly with it. Top managers have failed because of it. There were great guys liked by their team, they knew the technical side of their jobs but had their tail between the legs when conflict showed up among team members or different units/departments.
Dealing with conflicts can sometimes be amicable but in some cases would require a bruise somewhere. For the upcoming top management person conflict management is an unavoidable skill and must be cultivated.
Emotional Intelligence (EI)
EI is the ability to recognize your emotions, understand what they’re telling you, and realize how your emotions affect people around you. It also involves your perception of others: when you understand how they feel, this allows you to manage relationships more effectively (Mind Tools). It is measured as Emotional Quotient (EQ).
We may know people who are masters of their emotions, don’t get easily shaken and are able to navigate through crises situations without getting disheveled. This is an attribute which emerged in the mid-nineties and has been equally preferred as one’s technical abilities. There are a lot of positive stories of organisations that have been able to tap into it. An individual staff should learn to manage their own emotions well and as a manager additionally move up to manage the emotions of others. There are tools one can latch on to develop their emotional intelligence if one wants to develop into a top management brass.
This is very dire in day to day management. The ability to tear the flesh from the bones is a basic requirement in formulating, implementing and monitoring strategy. The understanding of the competition and your positioning within the industry is by way of astute analysis. Within an organisation this skill is needed to monitor performance and make the necessary changes. Analytical skills may come by natural acumen but constant self-training on analytical tasks would build up the one who may not be a natural. This would come with constant practice for the functional or operational staff aspiring to get into top ranked management. One way to test the level of analytical ability of a junior-ranked staff is how often they get invited into the top management ranks to share their input.
In our next article we would provide a self-assessment model on how you rank on these attributes to score yourself and how you can develop the others.
Author: Yaw Korankyi Antwi || Ghana Talks Business