It is common for heads of a business units, functions, or teams, to feel in charge for the unit they are leading only. This can turn into a serious problem when such leaders lose sight of the big picture. "Silo thinking", which we see in too many organizations, is a symptom of it. And it can cause massive harm to organizations.
So what's your role as a leader, actually?
The McKinsey research below suggests that in order to be effective and successful as a leader, you must take a view that goes beyond what you might see as the primary role of your unit. Your work needs to be aligned with the overall company's agenda.
You think you are doing this already?
Maybe. But be careful, your self assessment may be wrong:
"...are functional leaders well aligned with the CEO’s agenda? 76 percent of our CMOs said yes—but just 46 percent of the bosses in our 360-degree database believed their marketers knew where the organization was going. Many functional leaders, it seems, could and should better align with the top."
When we asked CMOs about their primary role, some responded that they “ran the marketing organization” or “led their companies’ advertising and brand campaigns.” We believe many other functional leaders would provide similar departmentally focused responses. By contrast, the most effective and successful leaders in our study were more likely to describe their primary role as increasing company growth or better outreach to customers to improve performance. We found that a key determinant of success was taking on the big issues, those in sync with the CEO’s agenda and contributing to the company’s overall performance. Aligning with the CEO’s strategy explained 10 percent of CMO business impact and 10 percent of career success.