Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown, as the Bard said. There are similarities to problems and opportunities for the executive role in all times. A few fundamental things in our experience can make the transition easier.
1. Identify the situation you are in: In Business, because of cycles or disruption one sees a lot of change. There are four fundamental types of business situations—Startup, Turnaround, Realignment, and Sustaining Success.
The most common mistake is focusing too much on the technical side or domain know-how. Solutions in most situations lie beyond the technical and at a connect level, also known as emotional intelligence. The First 90 Days by Michael Watkins offers more details.
2. Know yourself: It implies understanding one’s strengths and weaknesses based on the business situation one is in. For example, one may be good at marketing and sales, however, one could face problems if the contracts are not properly vetted. The core idea is to build a team around the opportunity and areas in which one has weaknesses.
3. Create a culture: The number one job of the leader is to create a culture based on sustainability. Once that spreads to different people the culture becomes institutionalised. It helps to put a foundation early or, if there are gaps, make changes which help to grab the opportunity.
4. Focus on early warning signs: Every situation shows hints of things evolving in a certain direction. It could be a key client issue/ a product issue or a people problem. Planning helps to minimise the impact if one notices and acts on the signs early.
5. Build for the future: The job of an entrepreneur or a business executive is to ensure that the company stays relevant in the marketplace. When the executive/board/entrepreneur has not done a good enough job, the company alters usually because the leader is weak in certain areas or because strength has become a liability to the company.
Building up implies preparing people for new roles. For example: Somebody from a sales background may not be a great manager. One would need to prepare a transition path to help people succeed.
6. Reinvent yourself: It is important to reinvent yourself. It starts with identifying the relevant and weeding out/ automating the mundane. It is like an eagle going to a mountaintop. For some it could be taking a course or working on new ideas as a hobby or a project which can be converted to business.
7. Integrity is non-negotiable: The approach to work and working styles may wary, however, integrity is non-negotiable. It is about being aligned to the purpose of the organisation one is a part of.
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