Do you deserve a Seat at the Leadership Table

In his upcoming book Problem Solving LeadershipTM, Dr. Jeffrey G. Soper challenges the conventional wisdom of current leadership development thought and practice stating that “The problem with leadership can be found in the definition of the leadership problem.” His challenge is not that the focusing upon leadership skills and follower receptivity is wrong, but rather that it is incomplete. Problem Solving LeadershipTM contends that a key element of the leadership problem is missing – the nature of the work to be accomplished.

An excerpt from next week’s Business901 podcast:

Joe: In your LinkedIn bio, you asked a question. Are you an HR, IT, Quality, Accounting Executive waiting for the elusive seat at the table? Could you expand on that?

Leadership Table

Jeff: Over the last decade or so, there has been a raging debate amongst that function. As to the worthiness and the desire to have a seat at the executive table which represents the ability to have impact and influence on strategies of an organization, making the decisions not just implementing. That’s been a problem from many functions, especially those that I listed, primarily because frankly, they haven’t earned it. They don’t have the necessary skills to make an impact in the business.

So, the whole point of starting the institute was to be able to develop the key skills that an individual and staff function needs in order to have influence and be a true strategic business partner.

Joe: As organizations flatten out are we seeing inadequacies in leadership skills?

Jeff: I think you’re absolutely right. The flatter organizations get, which is the objective frankly, the more leadership is relied upon to get the point across, to get an impact in the organization. Leadership is influence based. A simple definition, the ability to influence others in the absence of positional power.

I don’t know many IT, HR, quality people that have the ability positionally to direct line staff or line managers, I should say, to do anything, but they do have a lot of technical expertise and they do add a lot of value to the organization. Unfortunately, it gets hidden or ignored because of a lack of ability to communicate and influence effectively.

Joe: When I talk to people at conferences, they often say, “You present these neat things, and we go to these conferences, but how do we get leadership listening to us?” You’re saying, “The heck with leadership. It’s your ability to influence leadership and earn that seat at the table is how you get these new things across and the things that you learn.”

Jeff: Absolutely. If you wait by the phone for the call, it’s not going to happen. The invitation doesn’t show up in the mail. You have to earn it, and you earn it by proving that you add value, and you add value by helping to achieve business objectives. It’s a pretty simple equation.

Jeffrey G. Soper, Ph.D., Executive Director of the International Strategic Business Partner Institute, and the creator of Problem Solving LeadershipTM, the C.L.I.C.KTM Process, and the Organizational Equilibrium ModelTM. Dr. Soper is a seasoned executive, consultant, author, and coach who is a recognized expert in the fields of leadership development, performance improvement, and creativity and innovation.

Jeff will be presenting at the The ASQ Charlotte Section Annual Conference 2013, Quality Conference of the Carolinas. The conference is held at UNC Charlotte Center City and is a one-day event on April 16th. Additional information and registration can be obtained at

An outline of Dr. Soper’s presentation: Problem Solving Leadership

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