Positioning Yourself for Executive Roles Now
As an executive search professional, I can also suggest quite strongly that there is a growing skills gap at the management and executive levels. In fact, a recent survey indicated that in spite of an increase in the number of applications per job, it remains a challenge to identify a suitable candidate. So, what are corporations looking for today? What seems to be missing?
While much can be said for academic credentials, the largest gap with respect to candidate suitability is the lack of experience. Secondly; candidates are lacking the right skills or competencies which are more than likely gained through experience.
While some of those baby boomer executives might stand in your way today, there are strategies you can employ to gain executive skills and confidence while waiting for your turn to move up. First of all, a positive attitude and an interest in taking a bit of a risk is critical to moving forward in your career.
* Self awareness – whether your employer will pay for the expense or not, it is important that you engage in a full blown review of your personality and communication style, your personal motivators and your progress toward a strong sense of emotional intelligence. Seek out a vendor who can conduct these assessments and provide you with feedback.
* Hire a personal coach – a personal coach can take your self assessment and help you to develop strategies to improve and strengthen your skills and provide advice on which opportunities to take advantage of. A personal business coach can help you to focus, set personal and professional goals and move ahead.
* Expand your strategic thinking skills – train yourself to think like a manager. Study how things are done and what could be changed to become more efficient and creative. Volunteer to lead change management projects. Keep process improvement top of mind. Be visionary; determine what needs to be done to create a better future.
* Enterprise management – senior leaders are very aware of all aspects of their business. From an experience perspective, seek out opportunities to work and gain experience in different functional areas. Learn more about what makes your organization tick. Study the success factors and learn how the organizational culture helps to create success.
* Create and manage your image – become an expert in the art of impression management. Observe how the management team dresses and then dress the same way. Help the management team feel that you are one of them; this helps to create a sense of cultural fit. Before you know it, they will be treating you as an equal.
* Learn the art of networking – part of the success of a senior manager is the ability to become a known entity. Yes, you can be an expert in your field, but if no one knows it, you will be passed up for the next job. Develop friendship and professional networks; keep in tune with what is going on around you.
* Take advantage of opportunities to lead - while no formal senior leadership opportunities might exist inside your organization, more than likely there are several projects for which you can volunteer. This not only develops your skills, but helps your own managers to experience what you can do above and beyond your current job. Take a leadership role outside your organization, become chair of a committee and/or a not for profit organization. Absorb all the skills you can at this level.
Senior management skills consist of a broader set of capabilities. Look around you and examine what experience brings success in your industry and/or your organization and then find ways to get this experience. Be sure you are the one with the right skills at the right time!
About the author
Paul Croteau is Managing Partner of Legacy Bowes Group, Manitoba’s leading Talent Management Solution. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org://www.paulcroteau.com
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