So it’s taken many hours into the night, weekends away from the family, missed meals and generally hard work to get towards the hot seat on the company board that has been your secret ambition for years.
You can smell the expensive leather seat and polished wood desk which is now well within your reach.
But as well as a decent track record of management, the ability to read spreadsheets and a great contact book, what will be the skill set that will mark you out as a great leader?
Let’s face it; the expectations of a 21st century leader are higher than they have ever been.
You don’t have to go back too far in history to witness leaders who rarely appeared anywhere near their work force.
They enjoyed a privileged and very exclusive lifestyle whose rewards opened doors to the most luxurious and celebrated circles.
They lived in a time when they were always addressed by their title or Mr (because female bosses were few and far between) and respect was given rather than earned.
It was a closed world too – no prying media eyes to ask difficult questions about justifying salaries or ‘jobs for the boys’ in action.
And the media appearances were restricted to the occasional ribbon cutting.
Now let’s skip ahead to the real world we all live in
What do we expect of our leaders in the 21st Century?
Above all, being a great communicator is essential.
The art of persuasion and influencing is now more important than ever and the rare dinosaurs that still try and rule by fear are rightly dying out.
Whatever the situation, an internal presentation, a TV appearance, the corporate internal webcast, or even delivering an industry keynote speech, the expectation will be for greatness every time.
It’s now exceedingly rare for a worldwide organisation to have a leader who isn’t good at all these skills.
But a question I’m often asked is ‘are they born with these skills’?
Let’s hit that fallacy on the head right away.
If you examine their journey to the top, there will be many hours of hard work finessing and crafting their communication skills along the way.
Sometimes this is done quietly with professional help away from the world (much of my life is spent in hotel rooms around the world in relative anonymity but that’s fine) other times, it can be more public learning at some of academia’s great institutions.
Either way, it’s recognition of the value of being the best they can possibly be, then investing time and effort that will pay off big time.
So here are my top five communication tips for aspiring leaders
And finally, go out there and grab every communication experience with both hands.
As Randy Pauch a Professor of Computer Science, Human-Computer Interaction, and Design at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania said at ‘The Last Lecture’ (he had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and given a few months to live)
“The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough. They’re there to stop the other people.”
Jon Hammond is one of Europe’s leading coaches in strategic and personal communication skills. His warm, experienced, encouraging approach coupled with effective tools tips and techniques have transformed even the most nervous communicators into world class leaders. He spent his early working life as a presenter for both BBC and commercial TV & radio and still present’s at large scale live events with audiences up to 50,000. www.jon-hammond.com