Recently, I’ve been reading a lot about the concept of executive function as a means of helping students achieve more in school. Executive function is the idea that students can be taught to handle the daily tasks needed to be successful in school – paying attention, organizing work, planning for the future, controlling impulses, etc. Training students in methods designed to assist with executing the functions of school will provide opportunities for their minds to learn, understand and demonstrate competency in the academic concepts being taught. Executive function employs activities to train the brain, which benefit students regardless of academic ability or level. Is there an executive function to leadership?
Leadership development typically prefers to focus on areas of inspiration, vision, collaboration, team building, and all the topics that make us feel great about leading. Every leader understands, however, there are many other areas of leadership that – while absolutely necessary – may not be quite as exciting.
It isn’t enough to cast the vision; leaders must lead the work to achieve it.
Leadership requires sustained attention to details, self-monitoring and awareness, flexibility to move from one idea to another, and the ability to organize and plan well. These executive functions are absolutely required for successful leadership. The behind-the-scenes hard work necessary to achieve success is not always evident to those we are developing to lead with us. As leaders, it is our responsibility to teach others all the skills necessary for successful leadership. To do less will only create frustrated leaders who have a vision and desire to lead well, but have not developed the skills to take themselves there.
Excellence is a habit (Aristotle)
Let us develop habits of excellence in those we lead. Excellence in all areas of leadership.