Accelerating Executive Mastery

Accelerating Executive Mastery >>

Are you an entrepreneur, executive, investor or other professional striving to be the very best at what you do? Accelerating Executive Mastery deep-dives into the metagame of mastery. How can you speed up the rate at which you develop in business, leadership and life? How can you get better, faster?

The Big Idea 💡

  • We live in a volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world. Many of the challenges we face, at work and on a global scale, often can’t be solved by intellectual horsepower and expertise alone. As leaders, how do we master this world?
  • Most of the literature on expertise, mastery and leadership addresses the development of technical skills in well-structured, ordered environments. The focus is on individuals attaining high proficiency within specific disciplines, where feedback is fast and results are easily measurable.
  • Executive-level leaders have already well-honed technical skills. Accelerating Executive Mastery goes beyond these skills to help you develop the kind of adaptive leadership skills required to navigate complex challenges, take your team on a journey with you, and speed up the rate at which you can do it.

It begins with an exploration of mental models, how they are the building blocks of human cognition, and how accelerating the rate at which you continually update, synthesise and advance your existing models and develop new ones is the key to workplace mastery in a complex world.

By dissecting and merging the research on technical mastery with that on adaptive leadership and adult development, I identify 10 ‘common factors’ that any individual needs to be working on in order to achieve executive mastery, including: Motivation, Time on the job, Continuous Learning, Deliberate Practice, Feedback, Coaching, Mentoring, Inner Work, Reflective Practice and Deliberately Developmental Practice.

Ready to accelerate your executive mastery?

The Mental Models Paradox >>

People have become obsessed with what mental models they can use to make them smarter. If we take these mental models and conceptual frameworks and run our reality through them, then we’ll become better thinkers and make better decisions. Or will we?

This Precursor to the series explores the paradox: good mental models, and other conceptual frameworks, make us smarter but only up to a point, after which they can actually constrain our thinking.

Make sure your mental models are building blocks to higher wisdom, not brick walls constraining your thinking.

Mental Models & Mastery: Forging a Theory >>

Part 1 explores the foundations of learning and our construction of knowledge:

  • How mental models form the basis of cognition, and how we construct increasingly sophisticated mental models over time.
  • How we move from acquiring the explicit knowledge that characterises our earlier work careers – teachable, learnable, conceptual facts which form the basis of our mental models – to tacit knowledge, that which is hard to express, extract, formalise or codify (including personal wisdom, experience, insight, and intuition).
  • Learn about Cognitive Flexibility Theory and Cognitive Transformation Theory, which underpin your journey to mastery.

Executive Mastery: 10 ways to get better, faster >>

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Work hard at something over time and you’ll get better, right? Yes, but time on the job alone gives you no guarantee of mastery. And what if time isn’t on your side. What if you want to get better, faster? This is the challenge that the CEOs and executives that I work with face. As their business and role grows, their development can struggle to keep up with the rate of change.

To help you become a better executive, faster, Part 2 identifies the ‘common factors’ that you need to be working on tenaciously if you want to become a better executive, or better at anything in fact: Motivation, Time on the job, Continuous learning, Deliberate Practice, Reflective Practice, Feedback, Coaching, Mentoring and Inner Work.

What else to expect from this Series

Future articles will explore questions like:

  • What does mastery looks like beyond just technical expertise? What’s the difference between horizintal and vertical leadership skills, and technical and adaptive leadership? How do these things influence your journey to executive mastery?
  • Why it’s so important to understand your operating environment, because context changes everything. I’ll explore categorisations for different environments, be they well-structured or ill-structured, kind or wicked, complicated or complex (the Cynefin framework), Type 1 or Type 2 domains.
  • How does mastery differ across these different environments and disciplines? For example, sport and business, and why comparing CEOs to elite athletes is an over-simplification.
  • Why deliberate practice falls short when it comes to mastering complex environments. What forms of Deliberately Developmental Practice might be better suited to mastering complexity? Might encouraging ‘heat moments’ be better instead?
  • Mastery can be defined the desire to get better at what we do – to achieve a high level of proficiency in a particular area. But what does holistic mastery look like? What does it mean to attain mastery in the context of living a Good Life?

Throughout the Series, I’ll be drawing on three main influences:

  1. Mastery – whatever your chosen pursuit, what does it mean to truly master it? What does it mean to be the very best?
  2. Business & Leadership – as an executive coach who works with some of the best in the game, how can we integrate the art and science of expertise and mastery into business and leadership?
  3. Complexity – How can we go beyond the hype of buzzwords like adaptability and agility to understand what it means to truly achieve executive mastery in an increasingly complex world? How can the study of Complex Adaptive Systems help us understand the journey towards mastery?

Thank you to Cedric Chin, who inspired this exploration by introducing me to the book Accelerating Expertise: Traing for High Proficiency in a Complex World and many of the ideas above, sending me further down the rabbit hole of mastery. Cedric has done much more work on this subject than I and I encourage you to read it all. I’ll link to it throughout.