Managers do a balancing act every day working on developmental activities and positioning while doing the work that needs to get done. Work is complex and immediate and - let's face it - what we get paid to do so execution and tactics often trump making sure that you know where you stand and what you need to do to reach your career goals. Clearly both are important given the fact that the job for life is gone. Managers must differentiate themselves by doing both: meet and exceed objectives and ensure that growth activities such as networking, learning and the development of a deep understanding of corporate structure and industry trends get done. A well defined and detailed work plan with measurable targets and timeframes will be your roadmap to achieving objectives. I'd like to believe that most managers have one in some form. Your developmental plan, however, is just as important and should be just as comprehensive and precise.
I read an article a couple of years back - still relevant - in Bloomberg Businessweek about the post-recession turnover in the CEO suite and how boards today are seeking leaders with new skills and experiences. In brief, Corporate Boards have moved or are moving away from the "company veteran" familiar with the only market that mattered - the USA - steeped in manufacturing culture and know-how. The new CEO has had many assignments across many industries; has a "global outlook" as well as marketing expertise. Outside directorship is valued and demonstrates that CEO candidates have experience working with boards. And I thought what a great framework these new requirements would be to use for a developmental plan. So I'm asking you to ask yourself : Are you ready to be the CEO? What do I need to know and do to get there?
For most of us, there are fewer opportunities in the C-Suite than there are elsewhere. But awareness about what a manager needs to do to get ahead coupled with the ability to think big in the context of your own organization can give you the ability to demonstrate your value and increase your earning potential. If successful cross-industry assignments are valued then so are successful lateral assignments across functional work groups or other companies. If one is required to have a global outlook, learn about the global economy through business periodicals and by establishing mentor and network relationships with those who have international experience. Wherever you are in your company, know what Marketing is doing. Keep abreast of new products and services, target markets and customer segments. It's good information to have and will enrich your understanding of what needs to happen from every functional angle. Board expertise can be gained through volunteering for a co-op or non-profit board. Small to medium size businesses can benefit from an experienced middle or senior corporate manager to sit on their boards.
The key take-aways are these:
- Your developmental plan is as important as your work plan. The best person to be in charge of your career is you.
- Resist the urge to create a select group of mentors within your own organization that can support only your immediate goals. Instead, create a network of mentors and contacts that will increase the breadth and depth of your understanding and experience and take you to the next level.
- Think big and then bigger. Minimally think two levels ahead. Notice what's important to your boss's boss. Ask yourself what you would do if you were her. Use that learning to demonstrate your value-add.
- Keep abreast of industry trends and ideas. Take seminars, listen to pod and webcasts and read, and remember,
- what's good for the goose is good for the gander - the skills that make a great CEO will make a great manager, director or vice president.
Real Leadership Associates can help you develop a plan to take you to the next level and increase your competitiveness. I'll work with you to help you master the balancing act between exceeding your objectives and managing your development. Contact Bethfor more information.
Summer is coming to a close and I hope its been a fun and prosperous time for all. Have a great labor day celebrating the contribution you make to your business, your family and your community. Talk to you soon!