As an Associate Director of EO Executives, I have had an extensive career in both placing high calibre candidates into senior roles and providing career advice around how individuals can progress in their careers. For the Senior Level/ C-Suite/ Board Level it can be challenging to visualise further career progression because arguably they have already reached an elevated level of progression. Nonetheless, there is always room for development, whether it is taking on a more challenging role or building on core skills and qualities.
So, ask yourself the following:
Have you stopped progressing in your professional career? Do you want to improve but are unsure on where you need to focus? Perhaps you’re struggling to understand what you need to be doing daily to become a strong leader. Regardless of how hard you work, you just cannot seem to shift the big rocks on your desk and make some real progress for both yourself and your team. You get bogged down in the doing and mundaneness of your role. It’s not to say you don’t enjoy your work but you keep asking yourself “is this it?”
You have reached your high point and now you have no where else to go… or so it seems.
If you look around you there will be people who are continuously progressing and are seen as strong leaders in the business. They have the ability to refine what they do, drive innovation, a strong culture and still get the work done.
They are goal orientated and outcome focused.
When we first enter a new job the focus is often on doing. Do this. Do that. Make this happen. We work as hard as we can to prove ourselves but struggle to carry on the momentum. If you look back at your career, the first year or so are always the most enjoyable and challenging. You learn new skills, ask lots of questions and have a clear idea in your mind of what you need to do so you master the basics.
All the above is necessary but only to a point. Once you have reached a certain level, you need to stop focusing so much on just getting things done. Instead, you need to take a step back and ask yourself – how can I better help this organization win? How could I best use my skills/talent and my teams talents to better achieve our organisations vision?
I want to offer some advice, so here are my top tips on how to improve and start progressing to become an inspirational leader of tomorrow.
1. Question assumptions
The absolute worst reason to do something a certain way is because “we always do it like this.” Do not accept a task at face value, ask yourself, why do we do it this way? Is there a better way to do it? Interrogate habits and practices, you can often uncover innovative ideas and efficiencies. Most people like the idea of following a set of guidelines as this helps understand what they are meant to do and how they measure success, so be careful when it comes to questions what is in place and how they can be improved. You need to be able to demonstrate how the changes you want to trial can better their personal and team progression.
Dedicating every minute of every day to just ‘getting stuff done' sounds productive but it lends no time for strategic thinking, and your improvement and impact will be limited to those tasks. Instead, you need to take a step back and observe what is going on. Ask yourself, who is doing what? How much is each activity really moving the needle? Where are my blind spots? Have we got the right people in the right areas? A true leader will want to progress with voice and start to make changes, so trust yourself.
You should spend a proportion of each day reflecting. What is holding you back? What activities really helped the organisation move forward? What has had the most impact? What is just not working and what are the bottlenecks? Sometimes it is as simple as spending time with your team and listening. Have a brainstorming session and get some ideas flowing- it doesn't take time, it takes space. Give yourself space to think. Become self-aware of your own weaknesses and you will gain the ability to address this and improve, or find people that have strengths in those areas.
4. Be consistent
With so much going on around you it can be easy to get lost in your work and lose sight of the direction you need to be going in. Jumping around from project to project means that your leadership stock goes down. Try not to be a magpie that is always looking for the shiny new thing. Make sure the follow up and stay in the feedback loop to keep things moving in the right direction.
Spending time to establish the right habits can be hard to do. You need to work on yourself and keep focused on your goals. Instead of mindlessly following the commands of others, as it gives you a chance to be what you want and somebody who isn’t afraid to ask why. Strong leaders are accountable and can take control of their own career.
Work is about progression and enjoying the journey along the way.
What do you think it takes to successfully progress in your career? Leave your comments below. Alternatively, if you would like a confidential discussion around placing the right leaders into your business get in contact at: firstname.lastname@example.org.