Aspiring C-level managers: don't ignore this 1 important thing
There’s a belief in corporate environments that when you’re hot, you’re hot. From my over 35 years of experience in helping middle managers realize their career dreams, I can tell you that this belief is only partially true and one of the real factors affecting career development.
As an entry-level employee, you made it your business to make sure you were the best you could be, whether it was marketing, sales, operations, finance, IT, etc. You stood out as the one to watch when it came to your particular discipline. Everyone knew you were destined for a promising career. You were hot.
And being hot at your discipline helped. You were promoted much quicker than other employees and you excelled at each of your positions. But recently it seems like someone has put the brakes on your career. Being hot at something doesn’t seem to be as redeeming a quality as it once was. In fact, it’s quite the opposite and there are other factors affecting career development.
Surprising, right? Not really. While you were becoming so ultra professional in your specific area, others were developing a managerial mindset that is just as important - if not more important than being the best programmer of financier in town.
And when promotion opportunities come around (if they haven’t already), you’re going to find that co-workers who are less proficient than you in certain areas are going to get the promotions you thought were coming your way. How can this be? What’s their secret ingredient?
Well, I’m not a fortune teller, but there are some secret ingredients to a managerial mindset you should know about.
1. Looking the part
It’s true, we’re now in the age of relatively informal appearance. People come to work dressed much less formally than just a few years ago. I’ve even been shocked to see people coming to work in get ups resembling gym attire, but that’s really pushing it. However, I’m sure you’ll notice that the more senior a manager is, the less they’ll be likely to dress down too much. I’m not saying that you should wear a business suit to work every day, but I am saying that it’s important to observe how the next level dresses - and look the part yourself. Remember than when these decision makers have to determine which candidates to allow into their ranks, they’ll want to choose people that look as if they fit the role.
2. Communicating effectively
You can be the most brilliant R&D developer, but if you can’t communicate your ideas to senior management, let alone potential customers, your R&D creations aren’t worth much at all. Can you make a point concisely, both in speech and writing? Or do your subordinates dread your unfocused, drawn-out meetings and poorly drafted memos? When the stakes are high, can you provide effective feedback or help a team member get back on track by demonstrating genuine empathy? Or does you intervention usually muddle up the situation even further? Without the ability to clearly communicate both your professional competence and to manage others well, a promotion just isn’t in the cards.
3. Embracing change
Middle managers who desire to take on the role of senior managers must understand that embracing change is part and parcel of the job. Organizations, no matter what the size or industry, change and are meant to change in order to meet the challenges of today’s dynamic business world. If you are uncomfortable with the reality of an ever-changing environment, then a promotion isn’t for you. But if getting a promotion is important to you, try to develop a positive attitude towards change. View it as a constant growth opportunity both for yourself professionally and for your organization.
Being a true professional is the cornerstone of a successful career trajectory. But the definition of what a true professional is changes as you climb the corporate ladder. Making sure you develop a managerial mindset is crucial to this climb. I wish you luck as you make your way towards the corner office.
And always remember:
Great managers are made. Not born.
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