When I was going through the executive leadership curriculum at the Industrial College of the Armed Forces (now the Eisenhower School), speakers and readings continually repeated the notion that executive leadership was different; that the skills we learned as majors and lieutenant colonels would not make us successful as colonels and generals.
At the time, I gave that idea little credence. “Leadership is leadership” I thought to myself, how could it be that different? Then I graduated and went on to an executive position at the Pentagon and found that everything they taught me was true. Executive leadership was different! I spent a lot more time gaining consensus around ideas and building relationships than giving orders and making plans. I had fewer people reporting to me on the staff, but more people from whom I needed support to further my goals. Less details and more concepts. More strategy and less tactics.
Over at Lifehacker today, they’ve borrowed a Harvard Business Review article that addresses that subject:
An internal battle rages inside many high performers who advance from positions where they thrived as individual contributors to positions that require them to depend on others. On the one hand, they pride themselves on knowing more than anyone else about their area and like feeling confident in their abilities to deliver exceptional work. On the other, the scope of their new responsibilities no longer makes keeping up on all the details possible—or even preferable.
Read the rest at Harvard Business Review (via Lifehacker)