We recently had April Armstrong on our Voltcast: Illuminating Leadership Radio Show. April is the CEO of Aha Insight and author of the upcoming book called The Day One Executive. We had a fast-paced conversation about how you could start thinking like an executive. If you already an executive, we also talked about some good practices to sharpen our leadership saw. Below are a few highlights from our conversation.
Jeff-Why did you write the book?
April-If you’re lucky you’ll have a mentor in your career. But I recently spoke to a group and 2 people in the room raised their hands that they had never had a mentor in their life. This book is for them. And quite frankly, even if you’ve had a mentor – this book reflects my experience with hundreds of executives from all walks of life, my journey as a very young executive in a very big company, and a lot of research into top executive traits.
J-What does it mean to be a Day One Executive?
A-You show up differently. You are like the lion looking for “the standard” to eat for lunch. You are that aware. And you show up as an executive starting on Day One of your career. It is a choice to show up as an executive. Anyone can be an executive. This is not something you have to wait for someone to promote you to.
J-How is this different from a lot of the other “leadership” books out there?
A-This takes a close look at a very specific attribute of leadership. Not all leaders are executives, and by no means are all executives leaders. This book is for the born leader who wants to bring out and cultivate their inner executive – starting right now.
J-What’s an example of something from the book that folks may not have heard someplace else?
A-Know the real driving force of the business you are in.
J-Won’t millennials do it all different? Will this book be out of date by the time it is printed?
A-There’s a lot of chatter about millennials versus Gen X and older. And they will do it different. They will reshape the world. But what is not likely to change dramatically is the fundamental underpinnings of what it takes to change the world.
This book isn’t written for climbers or coasters. It’s written for people who want to change the world and it takes a certain leadership to do this.
I encourage you to buy April’s book. It is filled with ideas, suggestions and tips to help you become a better executive. Here are a couple of thoughts that I have to get you started:
1. Create an advisory board—identify 3-5 people that can give you feedback on your leadership skills. Have lunch or coffee with them 2-3 times a year and ask them for feedback on how you can grow as a leader.
2. Be curious about your organization. What are the driving forces of your business? What can you do to take the initiative to help the organization be successful in the key aspects of the business.
3. Be clear on your development and then go get better at what you are working on. Read a book, watch a YouTube video, find a good podcast to listen to or identify a coach or thinking partner that can help stay accountable to your growth.
4. Grow others—might be in your organization or could be in a volunteer setting. The best way to hone your executive skills is to teach others and notice where you still have growth for yourself.
Good luck and let me know what you are working on. Thanks to April for a great show!