Sunday, January 6, 2008

FM Leadership Development

As the importance of FM as a strategic lever is recognized by more organizations the expectations of FM leaders are ratcheting up accordingly. More and more, strong business and entrepreneurial skills are as important as strong FM-specific knowledge. Good advice to younger FM’s who are now maturing in the profession includes encouragement to develop these elements of their personal portfolio along with more traditional FM areas of interest.

Analysis of current FM executive hiring indicates that companies expect more value from their FM groups, expect them to think and act strategically, expect them to understand and support the business of the business, and expect them to drive large scale change quickly and dramatically instead of incrementally. Strategy, business acumen, and change leadership are key skillsets which a lot of non-FM executives have, helping to explain why more and more we see non-FM’s assuming leadership of FM organizations.

FM’s who aspire to executive leadership positions should take a balanced and business-centric approach to their personal development. Specifically, they should…

Know the business of business. Be able to think, talk, and act with strong business knowledge.

Know the business of your business.
Know and understand the key business drivers in your specific industry and company. Know how things get done and how decisions get made. Understand and use the financial language, standards, and protocols of your company.

Cultivate important relationships. Know who the influencers and decision makers are in your company and be intentional about spending time with them on a consistent basis. Become an asset to them, a problem solver they can depend upon.

Share the wealth. As you develop yourself and move through the ranks take pride bringing others with you. Make staff development and succession planning a part of your personal development strategy. In other words, prepare others to lead as well as yourself.

In this age of increasing specialization it is tempting to pick those specialties you have the most affinity for and drill deep. That’s fine, if you want to be a technician or recognized knowledge content expert. Being given the reigns to a large complex organization with substantial financial responsibility, however, requires that you know how to think and act in the larger context. Preparing yourself by doing things like those listed above to develop your non-FM skills is just as important to your future.

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