It’s not one thing. It’s a variety of skills and attributes.
It’s the way they keep all associates focused on a vision or a goal. It’s the ability to build trust within a team. It’s the versatility required to keep pace with changing markets and consumer patterns. It’s the humility to admit they’re not the smartest person in the room.
And, maybe most importantly, it’s their pursuit of knowledge. This person never stops learning. There’s always another class to take, another discipline to study and another investment to make in oneself.
The indispensable executive has likely taken advanced education courses. They’ve probably channeled that learning-first mentality into mastery over one (or more) of the five following topics.
Business administration is about strategies and tactics that can be applied immediately on the job. Programs like these provide a solid foundational understanding of the principles and disciplines of business that have become necessary in an ever-growing and changing marketplace.
The indispensable executive takes many things away from a program about business administration, most specifically a better sense for the organization’s strategic direction and corporate culture.
Intercultural management is a discipline based on good communication. Communication is paramount in business, and in most organizations, being an outgoing, charismatic manager isn’t enough to facilitate clear communication between associates.
The indispensable executive realizes that, for the first time in this lifetime, there are four generations in the workplace—World War II, Baby Boomers, Generation Xers and Millennials—and each of them are made up of various ethnicities, genders, religions and backgrounds. Though these issues aren’t always discussed openly in many organizations, they’re big influencers on the way associates respond to communication and corporate culture.
Leadership is difficult to define but easy to see, and it occurs at all levels of business—from teams to projects to entire organizations. It’s a complex attribute to master, but leadership programs provide potential students with the sensitivity to assess the needs of all associates, the ability to give and take feedback and the acumen to make quick decisions effectively.
The indispensable executive understands that every leadership style is unique to a person and an organization, but the best leaders are in tune with their associates and adaptable to the needs of the business.
The goal of all management is effectiveness. Programs based around management teach students how to plan, organize, coach, motivate, delegate and communicate, and the curriculum revolves around understanding styles, managing priorities and performance and handling the impact of change.
The indispensable executive strives to improve communication between teams and associates. They use management as a tool to keep their organization healthy, to keep employees motivated and to minimize the fallout of change.
Negotiation is about influence. The greater the influence, the more effective the negotiating power. And with that power, influencers can easily dictate the direction of their organizations and the decisions that are made within it.
The indispensable executive realizes that the key to positive business outcomes isn’t simply influence, but it’s the ability to use that influence effectively. It’s negotiating one-on-one, in groups or across cultural barriers. It’s speaking both verbally and non-verbally, tapping into the things other associates deem important and creatively constructing win-win situations for everyone involved.
Nobody starts their career as a key contributor. Nobody kicks off a job as an influencer or decision maker. They grow into the role. They improve. They develop. They keep learning until their knowledge and actions make them indispensable, and they continue learning for the rest of their careers.