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The rapid-fire pace of a typical workweek can make it challenging to keep up with expected deliverables, much less strategize about your future. What tactical steps do you need to take to maximize performance and results, with an eye toward a better seat at the executive table?

Have a Plan

It can be difficult to dig out from under your task list to actively plan your career strategy, but it is up to you to make it happen. In fact, effective planning under fire is a hallmark of a successful executive. Project your current situation and future desire, then draw a road map to get you from here to there. Touchpoints should include:

  • Cultivating an executive presence: Stay strategically focused on business issues. Do not react emotionally to situations – political or otherwise. This brands you as a novice versus a climber. Hone your communication skills to project strength, build trust and leverage networks to widen your circle of influence. As noted by Kristi Hedges, author of Power of Presence: Unlock Your Potential to Influence, “executive presence is the differentiator between who gets noticed and who fades into the background.”
  • Building your personal brand: Maximize and promote your personal brand rather than simply hoping the right people will notice you. Write articles for industry publications, blogs and websites. Highlight not just what you know, but also how you think, manage and lead. Speak at industry events. Polish up your LinkedIn profile and personal website. Repackage yourself as a winner.
  • Staying current: Continuously learn and demonstrate your adaptability and openness to change. This may relate to technology, communications or management style. Be seen as an architect of positive change, not as a static “fixture” within your organization.
  • Finding a mentor: Be intentional as you identify and secure a mentor with whom you can relate, brainstorm and clearly communicate your goals.

Know the Rules

Executive-level promotions are governed by unwritten rules. Your track record and 360 results may be stellar and you may have been told that you have a great future with your company. However, you still need to know exactly what key decision makers are looking for – and much of this is intuitive and subtle. Few organizations clearly spell out their criteria for top-level advancement.

To gain insight into these unwritten rules:

  • Approach your boss or colleagues directly. Ask for their opinions. Proceed with caution, as they may not be straight with you or their perspective may differ from those at the very top.
  • Have a conversation with your former manager or your boss’s boss. Contact the highest-level manager who is knowledgeable about your work and with whom you have a positive relationship. As you do so, do not go behind your boss’s back. Keep them in the know about any contacts you make with other executives and the nature of your intentions.
  • Project a strong desire to understand what is holding you back. Avoid appearing to lobby and do not argue. Your core question should be, “What qualities or capabilities do I need to demonstrate to be a strong candidate for higher levels of responsibility?” Actively listen to the answer. Do not be defensive or use body language that may cause a person to clam up. Ask clarifying questions and watch for words and phrases that may provide key fundamental traits, such as “increased leadership ability” or “better communication skills.”

The specialized recruiters at BrainWorks can help you clarify your vision for executive advancement and convert it into a reality. Your C-suite promotion is well within reach. Contact us today so we can discuss options for setting your plan for success into motion.


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