Mind The Gap: The Shift From Functional Leader To Enterprise Catalyst

One of the most difficult senior leader transitions is moving from leading a function/group to showing up as a company leader.

Leaders naturally have experience representing their team, and as they elevate become comfortable representing the function/group. Moving from managing others, to managing managers, to managing a function etc. are big transitions. But a completely different mindset is needed as you continue to elevate — you need to show up to the table as an enterprise leader.

What does that look like?

Whether it’s budget, headcount, or ownership, approach challenges with a shared outcome of what’s best for the customer, company, and employees instead of fighting for only what will benefit your organization.

You need to think of what needs to be true to get to the outcome instead of building your empire or keeping control. Many times, it will require you to give something up to get to where you need to go. Don’t let your ego get in the way.

If feels counterintuitive at the beginning, but your ability to be agnostic to group alignment to get to solutions will become a superpower.

Different combinations of people will be required to get different things done.

Look beyond your group and “first team” to the individuals and groups that will need to come together to achieve success. Know who the key players are for different enterprise capabilities. Partner across silos and business units to bring the right perspectives and expertise to the table.

The teams will look different depending on the outcome you’re driving — this is organizational leadership.

Focus everyone on successful outcomes and the path to get there.

Provide vision, shape discussions, and align on clear expectations. But don’t hold the reins tight, let experts and diverse perspectives shine to come up with the best solutions.

Help by unblocking teams, providing resources, negotiating priorities, and driving execution.

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Rachel Kobetz

I love shaping product cultures that connect people and make technology more human. SVP + Global Head of Design at Expedia Group. Prev. BofA, Amazon, + Samsung