Friday, 20 October 2017

The Next.

After an important victory in North Africa during WWII, Winston Churchill cautioned Parliament with this statement.  “…This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end.  But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning…”

Churchill had an appreciation of the importance of the victory but he remained focused on the ultimate objective which was to win the war.  Battles count, but only the final battle really matters.  There was much more to be done and he was not about to get ahead of the game and assume victory; it had to be earned.

I see a lesson for all leaders in Churchill’s statement.  You have done the academic preparation; you have worked hard to excel in your position of responsibility; and you have gained the experience necessary to take on the next role.  When it comes, there is a certain amount of self- satisfaction that the culmination of your efforts has been recognized and the promotion realized.

But the warning is that you are not at the end or likely even close to it.  The same effort and drive that brought you to this place is now doubly critical if you are to succeed.  There will be much to which you acknowledge that ‘…I don’t know what I don’t know…’  This is true of all promotions.  It simply means that you must continue to grow through education, experience and effort.  The hill may have been climbed but the mountain remains unscaled.

There are many elements that can get you to the next level. This list is hardly exhaustive but it provides you some clues.
  1. Lean on predecessors to learn from their successes and failures.
  2. Continue formal education at a post graduate level with a primary focus on your area of responsibility.
  3. Find a mentor willing to share experiences, ideas and insights based on their own past and their knowledge of your capabilities.
  4. Join a peer group that is willing to honestly and constructively build into each other.
  5.  Hire a consultant with appropriate expertise to provide a critical assessment of the situation and then come forward with recommendations.

Most of all remember that you were not hired or promoted because you necessarily have all the answers.  Rather, your appointment in a signal that others believe that you have the potential to find them.  Your new position is not the end, nor the beginning of the end.  It is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.  And if you take this approach that a battle victory is not a war won, you have the foundation upon which you can fulfil your personal potential and expectations.

No leader is infallible. No leader has all the answers.  The best leaders acknowledge these truths and work towards improving, knowing that perfection is a goal that, though unattainable, is still worth pursuing.

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