While there is no standard blueprint for achieving executive status, there are some basic strategies that will help propel you further up the corporate ladder toward a meaningful career.
Start by clearly defining your career goals. Determine your longer-term goal (your ultimate role) and then put steps in place to help you get there. For example, what skills or additional training will you need to be successful in your desired role? There is power in writing your goals down–simply by creating a plan, you increase your chances of meeting your goal exponentially.
It will take time and consistent effort, but here are some actions you can take right away to begin your journey on the path to the C-Suite:
Develop Your Soft Skills
If you’ve been focused on the more technical skills required for your current role, it’s time to evaluate your soft skills. As you consider a move to higher level leadership roles, your ability to effectively communicate your ideas to others, graciously receive constructive feedback and become a strong listener are vital. Other critical soft skills we find top performing executives possess:
- A collaborative nature
- Presentation skills
- Time management
- A positive attitude
Ask for Feedback
This is an excellent place to begin no matter what your vision for the future. You may already have a good sense of the strengths and values you bring to the table and what areas you might need to work on, but other people’s perceptions of us can be truly eye-opening.
Put your ego aside and ask peers, current and previous managers, and others that you respect for their honest observations. Try to stay humble and determine what you can learn from the feedback.
Build Your Network
The more people you know, the more you increase your career opportunities. Whether it’s corporate networking events, professional associations, or LinkedIn groups related to your specific niche, get involved and don’t just be an observer. Share ideas, be generous and compliment others on their work, ask questions and give people an opportunity to get to know you.
Building your network doesn’t always have to mean organized events or groups. It’s about building relationships. Stay in touch with former co-workers and supervisors, seek out those within your organization that you respect. Show an interest in something they are working on or admiration for specific achievements.
It’s a good idea to maintain relationships with executive recruiters as well since they can provide coaching and guidance.
Leadership respects those who demonstrate drive and passion! Here are some suggestions for showing initiative:
- Offer to chair a committee
- Write a blog post on your area of expertise
- Join associations or other professional organizations in your industry
- Volunteer to mentor new hires or junior team members
- Apply for a position on a non-profit board
Leverage Your Resources
Use the tools available to you to highlight your accomplishments and your value. Keep your resume, LinkedIn profile and other relevant bios updated and include important highlights like areas where you’ve made an impact. Quantify results whenever possible.
Never Stop Learning
Whether it’s staying abreast of the latest industry trends, personal development seminars, certifications, etc. – learning is the key to growth and meeting your potential. Tout these achievements as part of your portfolio. Not only are you continuously building your knowledge and skill sets, but it shows others you are committed to continuous improvement. It’s a win-win.
Communicate Your Goals
Let management and others know about your desire to expand your career. If you don’t make your aspirations known, you might be overlooked. Whereas, if you make others aware of your capabilities and your vision for yourself, you are demonstrating your drive for success.
You already have expertise and experience to be marketable in your current role, but if your goal is to land a job in the C-Suite and drive value at a higher level, it is absolutely attainable. Leaders in any organization want people who take the initiative, are committed to the organization and their own personal growth, communicate effectively and work well with others.
By taking the actions detailed above, you’ll kick start your career advancement and begin your steady climb up the ladder to success.