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 complex world. The types of systemic challenges we face as leaders, at work and on a global scale, can’t be solved by intellectual horsepower and expertise alone. How do we master this world?
  • The popular literature on expertise, mastery and leadership often addresses the development of technical skills in well-structured, ordered, kind learning environments. The focus is on individuals attaining high proficiency within specific disciplines, where feedback is fast and results are directly measurable. With the right mindset and consistent, deliberate practice success and mastery will follow.
  • But it’s not like this in the C-suite. With their technical skills already well-honed, Executive-level leaders operate in more wicked learning environments. Information and feedback is messy, random, incomplete, ambiguous, inconsistent, unpalatable, or secondhand. The relationship between cause and effect isn’t known until afterwards. What worked once may not work again. Leaders can’t just ‘know better’. As well as looking inwards, leaders must also look outwards, to understand the perspectives of their people, organisation, competitors and the market.
  • Accelerating Executive Mastery goes beyond technical proficiency to help you master the kind of adaptive leadership skills required to navigate this complex landscape, take your team on a journey with you, and speed up the rate at which you can do it.

This Series is a Work In Progress, based on where my current research and thinking has got to.
Share your thoughts and give me feedback, and sign up for The Future Of Leadership Newsletter to stay updated.

Ready to accelerate your executive mastery?

Accelerating Executive Mastery Canvas >>

Based on the 10 ‘common factors’ that support anyone’s journey towards mastery, the Mastery Canvas is a practical tool to help you navigate your journey towards mastery.

Mastery is a journey not a destination, so there’s no hard metrics to measure yourself against. Keep yourself accountable through revisiting the Canvas consistently, journalling and working with your coach, mentor or another accountability partner.

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

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.

Part 2 identifies the â€˜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, Feedback, Coaching, Mentoring, Inner Work, Reflective Practice and Deliberately Developmental Practice.

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.

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.

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?

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