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Tips for Executive Leadership

Feb 1, 2023
Mark Cannon shares executive leadership expertise ahead of program in late February

By Arial Starks

Mark Cannon

While on the journey to reaching your full potential as a leader, there are ways to ensure you are equipped to lead others effectively, which will in turn aid you in achieving your professional and organizational goals. Professor Mark Cannon shares a few tips for executive leadership ahead of his upcoming Executive Education short program.

Teach your team members to lead themselves. 

Just as it is important to self-reflect as a leader on your strengths and areas for improvement, it is consequential to be able to identify talents among your team members and decide the best ways to utilize them. 

“The leader in some ways is teaching their team members to fish, versus providing the fish for the people who report to the leader,” he said. “This helps them get better and become stronger.”

In doing this, Cannon says you are empowering your team to execute their strengths effectively, and equipping them with the tools to better lead themselves.

Be versatile in your leadership style. 

As you grow in leadership, you also want to expand your leadership style. Avoid overusing an approach simply because it is what you are used to or good at, and instead learn to pivot in your leadership style based on what is most effective for your audience. Cannon encourages leaders to consider the GROW model, an acronym which stands for Goal, Reality, Options, Way forward.

“Instead of thinking about ‘what it is I want and what am I thinking,’ you should consider ‘what is going to work best in this particular environment,” Cannon said. “Read the people and the situation.”

Gain the trust of your team members. 

To effectively lead a group of people, you must first gain their trust. Cannon says one of the most important factors of trust from a leadership perspective, is the ability to listen to your team. 

“Something that I’ve found to be pretty common among most leaders is that they could do better at listening more,” Cannon said. “When you take a moment to listen in a focused way and allow others to feel heard, it is a huge factor in building trust, cultivating a working relationship, and understanding what it is people want and the best way to lead them.”

He adds that it is good practice when actively listening to a team member to repeat back what the person is saying to you. This will test your understanding of what is being communicated, and let the other person know they are being heard. 

“It creates a foundation that if you are going to problem-solve with them, they feel like you have heard them, understood the message, and they will in turn let go of their concerns and be able to engage in a productive, psychologically safe conversation,” Cannon explained.

Register for the Executive Leadership short program led by Mark Cannon today, or learn more about Vanderbilt’s other upcoming Executive Education short programs.

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