Attending interviews for Senior Management or Director level roles can be extremely challenging. As you progress up the ladder fewer and fewer opportunities will present themselves, meaning when the right opportunity does come up, you really do need to ensure that you’re on top form to secure the role.
The challenge with these senior level interviews is that you will not only be asked to outline your experience in detail but you’ll also be expected to describe your management style, prove your delivery capability and set out your vision – not an easy task to prepare for!
An excellent book on management and leadership is ‘The Fifth Discipline’, by Peter M Senge. It’s a visionary book and how to guide on creating ‘the learning organisation’, which is a collaborative approach to organisational development.
Senge, a lecturer at MIT’s Sloan School of Business, created a very simple set of disciplines that organisations can use to truly understand the behaviours that are composite in the transformation of a business from broken to fixed, from good to great. Working with organisations such as Ford, Shell, and AT&T over many years, Senge is able to distil the key and necessary components that underpin lasting, radical and transformational change successfully.
Below are his five disciplines to help define your vision:
1. ‘Personal mastery’: A discipline of continually clarifying and deepening our personal vision, focusing our energies, developing patience and seeing reality objectively.
2. ‘Mental models’: These are deeply ingrained assumptions, generalisations, or even pictures of images that influence how we understand the world and how we take action.
3. ‘Building a shared vision’: A practice of unearthing shared pictures of the future that foster genuine commitment and enrolment rather than compliance.
4. ‘Team learning’: The capacity of members of a team to suspend assumptions and enter into genuine thinking and discussion together.
5. ‘Systems thinking’: The Fifth Discipline that integrates the other four.
So, how does this benefit you in preparing for a senior level interview? It helps outline a great strategy you could employ if you were to join the business and create a strong team culture. Many executives talk about a 90 day plan on appointment – these disciplines help you define that program. It could also help to outline how you would aim to maximise revenues through a shared belief on improvement and output; how communicating messages to everyone from the board to the shop floor will be clear, concise, engaging, realistic and believable.
Now, how would you get people on the shop-floor to focus on ‘Personal mastery’ goals? (Effectively, the sum of the parts creates the whole). Do employees have an appropriate ‘Mental model’ to latch on to? How will you make sure that management and staff have a shared vision? How does your team learn from its mistakes, experiments and endeavours? How will this learning help to define the strategy for the business?
These five disciplines represent an excellent wallet-sized view on defining leadership strategy that could be extremely useful in your next interview.
Hays, the world’s leading recruiting experts in qualified, professional and skilled people.