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The Difference between Being a Manager and an Executive


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I know why there aren't more women in executive roles. In my opinion and experience many women have the natural abilities to manage such as being able to build relationships and to have empathy. However being an executive requires a shift in leadership thinking and behaviors which for a lot of women can be a very real challenge.

I am working with a woman right now who is in a VP of Operations role. This lady is dynamite, brilliant and comes with years of success and experience. Many of the skills she developed as a manager have gained her support and recognition. I worked with her and her team to facilitate a retreat and from there she asked me to personally coach her. This woman doesn't need coaching to help her be a better manager-she wants the coaching to be an even more effective executive.

So what is the difference between being a manager and an executive? Simple: using an eagle's eye view instead of a bird's eye view when leading.

An eagle's eye view is at a higher elevation of leadership, more objective, more guidance, less emotional and focused on people and results.

Comparatively a bird's eye view is closer to the ground, more watchful, more involved, hand holding to some degree and internalized stress about personally 'managing' results for our people.

Men are very good at 'detaching' themselves emotionally from the daily interactions among people. I feel this is an innate ability to focus on facts and solutions. We women can allow ourselves to become too 'attached' to the minor goings on between our people and then can get distracted from the facts and then get in there to 'do something ourselves' to get to the solution.

To shift from manager to executive here is what I have seen are the traits needed:

  • A willingness to remove or detach ourselves from getting involved in the minor daily stuff going on and working on a 'need to know basis.'
  • An ability to stay focused on the big picture and to communicate the relevant action to the team.
  • A clear and communicated expectations of items to be executed, time lines and performance outcomes.
  • A strong ability to put the onus back on the managers to bring solutions, take actions aligned with the plans and goals and hold them accountable.
  • An ability to inspire managers and the team to want to work hard and to be committed to the vision, mission and goals

To be effective as a new executive avoid the following:

  • Micro managing all projects and being too 'hands on.'
  • Over riding a managers decision in their department without consulting them.
  • Communicating directly with their direct reports on projects or items that the manager already has started- do not get in the middle of communications that are in their realm of their responsibility.

There are many similar positive traits and skills that both managers and executives have in common. However to move from being a manager to being an executive we need to fly higher and use our 'eagle's eye view'.

About the Author

Cheryl Cran, CSP President of Synthesis at Work Inc. works with organizations in significantly increasing productivity and profitability through communication strategies that improve employee performance, leverage team synergy and build extraordinary leaders. Many of Synthesis at Work's clients are award winning industry leaders.

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Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2007-08-22 23:29:12 in Personal Articles

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