"I know you’re a leader, but are you an Executive?"
When I interviewed for my first VP role, I was asked some tough questions. The President of the company said, “you have leadership qualities, but I’m not convinced you’re an executive”.
“What do you want me to say”, I asked.
I didn’t fully understand at the time and partially answered the question. He gave me a shot anyway. He never let up and I’m glad he didn’t. I learned the difference.
An executive looks at things much differently than someone with a functional title and view. An executive looks at bigger picture items and how their responsibilities complement them. They look at things like company goals, culture, strategies, and initiatives while ensuring their department executes in a complementary way.
I always made sure my departments executed but I didn’t always keep the bigger picture in mind. I needed a boss/mentor to unveil what I wasn’t seeing. After the enlightenment, I always look at the bigger picture and how my actions are in alignment.
If you are an executive and have leaders you are responsible for, spend time with them explaining what a true executive should be looking at.
It could be as simple as opening their eyes and turning them loose.