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From Working 'In' to 'On' the Company: Mastering the Executive Role

In the world of business, the role of an executive is both multifaceted and demanding as we have discussed in previous entries. Executives are tasked with the responsibility of not only ensuring the day-to-day operations of their organizations run smoothly but also charting a course for the future. They must excel at working "in the company" while also keeping a keen eye on working "on the company". It is a fine line that bridges the gap between the present and the future, and it is relatively easy to get lost.

The ability to seamlessly transition between these two perspectives, from 'in' to 'on' the company, is a hallmark of a successful executive. However, it's essential to acknowledge that navigating this dynamic presents numerous challenges.

Working on the company

From Day-to-Day Operations to Future-Focused Vision

During the daily midst of operational needs and schedules, it's simple to lose your way and count day after day without having the time and energy to focus on the future and everything that is around the organization. As an executive, maintaining a clear vision of the future while effectively shaping the present is a critical element not to lose sight of.

To master the executive role, one must first grasp the intricate balance required between 'in' and 'on' the company. Working 'in' the company involves dealing with immediate challenges, ensuring smooth operations, and overseeing daily tasks. This hands-on approach requires effective problem-solving, teamwork, and a deep understanding of the organization's internal workings.

On the other hand, working 'on' the company demands a visionary perspective. Executives must set the organization's strategic direction, foster innovation, and adapt to the ever-changing business landscape. This requires forward-thinking, the ability to identify emerging trends, and long-term planning.

Key Principles for Executives

Let's review those key principles that are basics and crucial for an executive to succeed when working 'on' the company:

(1) Strategic Vision

A clear, compelling vision for the company's future is paramount. Executives must define where they want the organization to go and chart a course to get there.

(2) Adaptability

The business environment is constantly evolving. Executives must be agile and open to change, ready to adjust strategies as needed.

(3) Effective Communication

The ability to communicate this vision and strategies to all levels of the organization is vital. Transparency and clarity are key.

(4) Team Building

Executives must assemble and empower high-performing teams. Nurturing talent and fostering a culture of collaboration are essential.

Warren Buffet

Warren Buffett, Chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, exemplifies effective executive leadership. His strategic vision and adaptability have made Berkshire Hathaway a global conglomerate. Buffett's clear and transparent communication, trust in subsidiary leaders, and disciplined decision-making are key principles he upholds. His emotional intelligence and strategic thinking contribute to his success. Buffett's career offers valuable insights for aspiring executives.

Essential Skills for Executive Success

As an executive, you might find yourself pondering a naturally crucial question: What are the essential skills required for success in this journey to avoid losing your way? Here, we present those indispensable skills:

(1) Decision-Making

Executives often face complex choices. Strong decision-making skills, rooted in data and informed by intuition, are crucial.

(2) Emotional Intelligence

Understanding and managing emotions, both one's own and those of others, is vital for effective leadership and relationship-building.

(3) Strategic Thinking

Executives need to think critically and strategically. They must anticipate industry shifts and steer the organization toward new opportunities.

(4) Time Management

Prioritizing tasks and managing time efficiently is essential when juggling 'in' and 'on' the company responsibilities.

Satya Nadella Photo

A notable executive who possesses these skills is Satya Nadella, the CEO of Microsoft. Under his leadership, Microsoft has experienced a significant transformation and resurgence, in part due to his strong decision-making skills, emotional intelligence, strategic thinking, and effective time management. Satya Nadella's approach to leadership and the success of Microsoft highlight the application of these skills in the real world of executive management.

Strategies for 'On' the Company Excellence

To master the art of working 'on' the company, it's essential to prioritize specific strategies for excellence over the pursuit of perfection. These strategies are the keys that will empower you to thrive in the ever-evolving landscape of the future:

(1) Delegation

Delegating 'in' company tasks to capable team members frees up time for 'on' company strategizing.

(2) Continuous Learning

Executives should invest in their own growth, staying informed about industry developments and leadership best practices.

(3) Networking

Building a robust network provides valuable insights and support from peers and mentors.

(4) Mentoring

Offering mentorship and guidance to emerging leaders within the organization can foster a culture of leadership development.

Indra Nooyi Pepsi

One prominent example of an executive who exemplifies these qualities is Indra Nooyi, the former Chairman and CEO of PepsiCo. During her tenure, she demonstrated effective delegation by empowering her team to manage the day-to-day operations, which allowed her to focus on the strategic vision of the company. She has also been known for her commitment to continuous learning, staying informed about industry trends, and leadership practices. Indra Nooyi's extensive network and mentorship efforts have contributed to her success and the development of a leadership culture within the organization.

Navigating the Dual Responsibility

Mastering the executive role is not a destination but an ever-evolving journey. It's a quest to harmonize the immediate challenges 'in' the company with the far-reaching vision 'on' the company. This journey demands the constant refinement of key principles, the honing of essential skills, and the adaptation of dynamic strategies that resonate with the organization and the ever-shifting industry landscape.

As you reflect on these insights, consider how you will weave them into your own path of leadership and embrace the endless evolution that is the essence of executive mastery.

What steps will you take to navigate this dual responsibility and lead with excellence in the ever-changing world of business?

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