Be a leader regardless of your role and title

Karlyn Borysenko is principal for Zen Workplace, and she will be presenting at the 2017 Leadership Academy. It’s a two-day deep-dive, immediately before the HighEdWeb Annual Conference, that offers leadership training to web leaders and managers.


Leadership isn’t something reserved for individuals in the C-suite — any person at any professional level can be an effective leader. All it requires is an understanding of the attributes required and awareness of how to execute behavior that supports those attributes.

Here are the essential leadership abilities:

  • Crafting a vision includes exploration, boldness and testing assumptions.
  • Building alignment includes clarity, dialogue and inspiration.
  • Championing execution includes momentum, structure and feedback.

Crafting a vision

Origami beginningAt any level of leadership, a vision is an imagined future state for an organization or team. While it’s common to think of a vision as coming from the top down, and the CEO or president may indeed be responsible for the overall vision, each leader within the organization needs to define a vision for their group that supports the main vision.

There are three main drivers of vision:

Exploration drives vision when the leader remains open to the full set of possibilities and prioritizes the big picture. There is a discipline to exploring new ideas that involves thinking at a big-picture level. It also requires resisting the temptation to choose the “right” idea too quickly.

Boldness drives vision when the leader is adventurous and unafraid to speak out. Great leaders stretch the boundaries of what seems possible and challenge people to rise to the occasion.

Testing assumptions drives vision when the leader seeks counsel and explores the implications of their actions. Leaders can test their assumptions through several means, including seeking others’ advice and doing more formal research.

Building alignment

Origami boats Building alignment is about gaining buy-in from the organization and your team — everyone who will have a role in making it a reality. Too often, leaders treat alignment as something to check off a to-do list. In reality, alignment is a dynamic, ongoing process that requires the leader to continually monitor and realign as conditions and needs change.

There are three main drivers of alignment:

Clarity drives alignment, because it’s important to deliver a rational, structured message when communicating with others. When people don’t understand your vision, how can you expect them to get on board?

Dialogue drives alignment, because one of the simplest ways to get others aligned around the vision is to engage them in a rich discussion about the “who,” “what,” “why,” “where,” “when” and “how” questions.

Inspiration drives alignment, because leaders get people truly excited to start a new project or initiative when they inspire them by painting an exciting picture of the future, share their own passion and show confidence in the team’s ability to succeed.

Championing execution

Origami boat on waterExecution is turning the imagined future vision of the organization into a reality. It propels the development of concrete strategies, makes the vision actionable, gives people a sense of achievement and fulfills the promise of the vision.

There are three main drivers of execution:

Momentum drives execution through initiating action and being driven towards results. Leaders often set the pace for the group, so when they seem too low-key, people may not feel the sense of momentum that’s needed to realize the vision.

Structure drives execution by providing a plan and analyzing the systems and processes in-depth. To create structure, leaders need to make well-thought-out plans and analyze complex problems.

Feedback drives execution by addressing problems and offering praise. When inefficiencies and complications are evident, leaders need to be willing to speak up. And, when people are performing well, it’s equally important to provide the appropriate praise and recognition to keep everyone engaged.

Flex your leadership muscle

In my session at the HighEdWeb Leadership Academy, we’ll dig in deep to each area. You’ll also get a custom leadership profile that will tell you where your natural leadership strengths are, and what you need to work on. Join us and you’ll walk away with practical tips and tricks to flex your leadership muscle!