On the heels of a rough recession, executives in all industries are transitioning from survival mode to a strategic one, looking to advance their organizations’ overall goals now that recovery is commencing. Now, when countless organizations are pressing the reset button, a CLO must rise up and renew his or her role as a strategic partner in the business. Here are five common traps — familiar to even the most seasoned CLOs — and advice for moving up and out of the trenches and into the strategy zone:
1. The “hurry up and wait” trap: You stay busy while waiting for new direction.
Join the strategic dialogue at the top. Ask to attend leadership team meetings; don’t wait to be invited. Listen for key business priorities, contribute new ideas and provide a fresh perspective — a learning-focused voice that might not otherwise be heard.
2. The “quick, quick” trap: You implement programs fast and furiously.
Slow down. Don’t just dive into the next training program. Identify the desired business outcomes first and then determine the learning objectives that best support them. Explore your options for implementation, taking the time you need to consider the smartest solutions.
3. The “safe not sorry” trap: You cling to your comfort zone.
Stick your neck out. Today, the riskiest career move is to do what’s comfortable. The best leaders accept uncertainty, adapt to change, and ask big questions to inspire creative, innovative thinking from themselves and others. Such questions include:
• How is the business growing and changing?
• What matters most — now?
• What old “problem” can we turn into a new opportunity?
• What risks are worth taking?
• What must we try — or else?
4. The “here and now” trap: You address only current needs.
Anticipate the future. Resist focusing solely on the present. Foresee future needs — the learning gaps that may arise a year or two from now — and begin to plan for them.
5. The “status quo” trap: You do what you’ve always done.
Try something new. What worked five or 10 years ago is likely not as relevant today. Assess your current programs — particularly the ones on auto-pilot — and determine their real value. If something no longer serves the business, be willing to let it go. Only then can you make room for smarter new approaches.
By avoiding or escaping common tactical traps, you can be a strategic CLO and create real value for the business.