Leaders must be professional navigators

Posted on June 5, 2012


Leaders/managers must also be competent professionals and able to navigate at their specific level in the organization; they must know the unspoken and spoken rules on how to behave and communicate between other power persons (leaders) to be able to achieve the needed results/goals.

Often this competence is not mentioned among the present theory about leaders needed to be both leaders and specialists. Maybe it is because the competence to navigate in and among relations is seen as being part of the specialist role? Never the less, I think the competence to navigate needs to be addressed explicit, because it takes up much time every day for each leader/manager and because it is imperative that a leader is able to support his employee and own work progress/results inside the organization towards implementation/recognition.

An ordinary and well-known model about leader roles points to two basic roles as pictured in the figure below.

Square put, the leader needs to be the specialist up in the organization and a leader down in the organization towards her employee. The specialist role comprises the specific field or area of knowledge but say nothing about the manager skills about communication person to person, person to organization and person to external interests. It does not describe the skills to maneuver within the company and the ability to gather support for own and department/section goals.

I experience a profound need that a leader can drive her own and her employees’ results and hard work forward to be recognized and implemented as part of the overall company strategy and goals.

To be able to navigate inside organizational relations the leader must:
– Prioritize: Choose to work for the most important areas. Not all goals are equally interesting.
– Influence/lobby: Be able to work and influence/lobby the power persons who can help getting your work and results recognized.
– Prepare: Own goals, opponents goals and alliances, possible maneuvers and own alliances.

If the leader/manager is unable to bring own and department goals forward inside the company there will be no results of the underlying effort.