What stands between you and the CEO?


A very successful IT leader I know describes two common pitfalls on the leadership journey.  The first, for new leaders, is an inability to delegate. The second, for seasoned executives, is an inability to switch from left-brain analytic work to right-brain creative work.


Joseph Mowing Lawn 1

We have recently promoted Wig to a leadership role. Wig is a bright bulb. He loves success. He has taken on tough challenges and delivered. He shows potential.

Wig has set the bar high. It looks like most of his team have difficulty catching up. Wig’s has demonstrated capabilities that inspire respect. The team wants to measure up to his standards. They are willing to take on stretch assignments to get the there. But they are exhausted. He seems relentless in pursuit of perfection. Getting there seems unattainable by the day.

Will Wig cut it as a leader?

Wig has done right to set the bar high and challenge the status quo. He needs to realize that he needs his team to get to the destination. To grow his people, he needs to delegate effectively. Invite people to walk a mile in his shoes. Knowing it is okay to fall, to get up, learn from mistakes, and keep on walking.

Most new leaders tend to hold on to important work. They believe they can get the job done better than anyone else. And end up doing the work that matters themselves. That is fatal to the team. Ultimately, it is fatal to the leader.

See a note on effective delegation here.

Right-Brain Switch

leftRight Eintein

We are all familiar with the dichotomy between left-brain and right-brain. The left half of the brain concerns itself with analytical work. It is the proverbial mind. The right half is concerns itself with artistic work. It is the  proverbial heart.

Physicists and mathematicians exemplify the left-brain archetype. Artists, musicians and lovers exemplify the right-brain archetype. That much is well-understood.

What about leaders?

If we were to poll successful leaders who are in that position for the first time, we would find left-brain dominance. That is not surprising. These are people who solve problems. They remove impediments in the way of team’s goals to make the team successful.

With a surgeon’s precision, successful new leaders wield analytics as a knife to ruthlessly dissect problems and eliminate impediments.

When it comes to C Suite exectives, though, the picture is completely reversed. Turns out that here, one finds right-brain dominance. In other words, the brain of a successful CEO looks more like that of Frieda Kahlo or Pablo Picasso. What gives?

Surprisingly, along the way these leaders have made a switch!  They started out as successful first-time leaders with left-brain dominance. They now use their right-brain creativity to articulate a compelling vision. To inspire emotions that fuel people, teams and the organization to success.

Want to be a CEO? Test your ability and willingness to make the switch.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: