More and more often we are seeing organizations distance themselves from traditional title-based (VP, Director, etc) positions within their organizational structure and instead moving to a role-based structure. Companies are looking carefully at each layer of the organization in order to create consistency in the activities performed at each level and drive efficiency and productivity from the management layers.
This change has a couple of distinct impacts:
- Titles Don’t Matter
If you’re a person who is attached to the traditional view of career growth and put a lot of weight in your title or the “rung” of the organization you fit into it’s time to rethink your priorities. It is now very common to see a single organizational layer that has VP, Director, and Manager titles all working together as peers. If you’re hung up on your title in that mix then you’ll be a less effective team member and likely will severely limit your future career growth.
- Leadership Can Come From Anyone
There is a significant difference between managing and leading and a successful organization needs both. When we assign role-based titles we make it clear at a cultural level that leadership is not about a title, it is about action and approach, and we open to door to hearing the leadership voices that may not have previously carried enough political weight to be heard. If your role is to lead, then regardless of the underlying title you need to step up and lead. Even if your role doesn’t say “leader” a role based approach suggests that building your leadership skills and demonstrating a willingness to be a leader is what will be ultimately be rewarded.
The world has changed and organizations are changing to meet the challenge. As you look forward in your career, whether you are currently in a leadership position or not you need to make leadership a priority in your development. Gone are the days where time and seniority will build a successful career. Leadership skills are the one key that differentiates those that move up and those that don’t.
The great news is that leaders are not born, they are developed. While many people continue to believe that the great leaders were somehow born with a unique talent or charisma that those of us average-joe’s can’t possibly hope to develop, the reality is that the true leaders have two key traits that anyone can develop – a learning orientation, and an action orientation.
“There are many wonderful things that will never be done if you do not do them.” – Charles D. Gill
Your professional future will be determined by your willingness to make leadership a priority. Find a mentor, sign up for courses, and make reading a part of your everyday routine, then get out there and take action and practice what you learn. You won’t always be successful in everything you try, but if you’ve oriented yourself toward learning you will find that failures caused by taking action through leadership provide the ultimate learning opportunities.
Tim Empringham, MBA
Tim Empringham is a passionate advocate for Innovation in organizations of all sizes as a mechanism to drive growth, create uncontested market space, create new customer value, and drive efficiency into the internal organization. His focus is on disruption of thinking and markets through integrative thinking, structured Innovation frameworks, and leadership development of Innovation and Change leaders within the organization.