[GUEST POST] Will the real leader please stand up?

I know many of you are short of time so I will try to summarise my point here. In almost 20 years spent in the influencer relations world I can count the number of AR people achieving senior promotions to leadership roles on one hand. I’ve participated in many conversations over the years with AR professionals feeling left out of those promotion decisions, maybe it’s time to either accept that as the status quo or chose to do something about it. The rest of my post focuses on doing something about it.

If you’re like me you’ll have read or listened to discussions that, on reflection were just common sense or obvious, I’m increasingly concerned that common sense doesn’t prevail and there are times when you need a simple reminder that can act as a catalyst to help you take a decision or move forward in some way. I’m hoping that this post is one of those..
Arguably we are entering a quieter time of the year, with the holiday season and the Olympic Games upon us many of us will be taking time out from Analyst Relations to recharge our batteries. I tend to use this time to reflect on the earlier months and think through what I should focus on in the latter part of the year and beyond. Time is a valuable asset and I try to use it wisely at this time, thinking strategically about my leadership competencies and their impact on my future rather than the impending Magic Quadrant that waits for my return from some well earned sunshine with loved ones. Over the years I’ve been reminded a number of times that it was my career and future, no one was more passionate about it than me.

Through numerous conversations with AR professionals from many high tech vendors has led me to the conclusion that whilst we all believe we have leadership roles we may not see how to lever them in the AR world to gain an advantage and move to leadership roles elsewhere within the business. One good aspect of my time with IBM was the investment the company made in its leadership training, they identified ten core leadership competencies all of which are relevant to any business in any sector. The competencies are:

Working with clients across many business sectors I’ve learnt that these competencies can form the bed rock of a solid leader in almost any functional area in today’s collaborative team oriented enterprise. My first action point for you is to assess yourself on these ten competencies, be critical and honest. Then take action.

Once you know where you are you can build a plan to build, enhance or lever the competencies. During this process I’m reminded that leadership competencies can be learnt, for example, we were not born with a coaching competence, we learn it. I recognise that this will take time and you still have to deal with that Magic Quadrant of course. If you’re unhappy with the status quo, you’re probably still reading my post, so this activity needs to be seen as a strategic investment that you must make in order to gain the recognition that you know you deserve.   If necessary, look for a coach (or mentor) to help you assess and plan the next steps.

As you continue your journey use your AR skills of segmentation and targeting to carefully identify key advocates inside and outside of your current functional management line. Understand the business world from their perspective, become their ally. Don’t accept the status quo, become a business leader and move forward.

 

Bill Reed (LinkedIn, @stcrossgroup) / St Cross Group

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One Response

  1. Hi Bill. Firstly, great to see you at the IIAR Summer Party and whilst the majority of us looked pale owing to the lousy British weather (yes, I know the sun did come out for us that evening), I have to admit, you looked rather bronzed and well so you need to share your secret with the rest of us.

    OK, down to business and the serious stuff. I think the post is an intersting one and I agree that some ARs do tend to get overlooked within organizations but a lot depends on the emphasis placed on the role of Analyst Relations i.e. whether it is bundled in with PR which in many cases it is, whether it is just a bulk standard AR programme i.e. an outbound push or, whether it is a role that supports sales and marketing and provides meaningful metrics outlining value and in some cases, ROI to the business. When it is the latter, that is when the role is taken far more seriously.

    Personality can also play a big part along with effort. I hate to say it but there are always those in the industry who tend to ‘coast’ along in their daily roles – happy to take a back seat and just do the necessary to get by. This is when your role is a job of course and not a career. However, there are also a lot more (thankfully) that see true value in influencing the influencers and work hard to be part of sales and marketing plans, ensuring product management and marketing are engaged with them early in the process so the analysts get a good insight in to strategy and roadmaps.

    I hear you whole heartedly on the competencies and continuous training to ‘better’ oneself is vitally important. I just think, owing to various circumstances, many ARs are not always in a position to create a leadership role although at the end of the day, we are all of course in charge of our own destiny!

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