How well prepared are you to “land” those key roles you so aspire to? Is it up to you stepping up or will your network “pull you up” into such roles?
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I have done a lot of career management coaching of senior business execs in recent times and found it very interesting how few actually “have a plan“. One that prepares them towards landing the roles that they aspire to over time. Of course that has many reasons, the foremost being that we all seem to be so “busy” doing what it takes to “staying on top”, that there is little time or energy left for “all this planning stuff”.
Do you have a Plan for Stepping Up?
However, I am also finding that many such players also don’t really know how to go about such planning and orchestrating. And I’m actually surprised how many don’t use mentors or coaches to help them with this vital form of career development. I am well known for suggesting that:
- Most people spend more time planning a holiday than they ever invest in planning their career, let alone their life
- Most people I have coached actually “fell into” their profession, me included
- and when I probe, a great many admit to having “fallen” into their last 3 roles.
Hardly an indication of what I wrote about in “Do you have a Plan?”, but very typical nonetheless.
A Personal Example
One particular coaching conversation from a few weeks ago stands out and so I thought it to be a great example to share with you all, hoping that it might make a difference to your career management, regardless of how well or not you have done this in the past.
My client is and has been at the top of his profession for many years, having spent over 20 years growing and developing his career in his industry. He had a choice: finding a similar role running a larger or slightly more complex property, or changing industries into which he could transfer his skills successfully. Or his next growth opportunity would be into a role that directs the successful utilization of multiple properties in a Group role.
Of course such roles would probably necessitate moving cities and perhaps even countries, which he and his family are prepared to do. Particularly having adolescents finishing high school, or finding suitable arrangements to maintain the desired level of education for your younger children, this is of course often a very difficult call to have to make. And then we have to consider the right commercial and “cultural” fit in an organization and environment we will be working in for a number of years; having given up the comfort zone of “what we know” and transitioning into something that has “new” written all over so many facets of work and life for self and family.
Relevant Options for Stepping Up
And so we explored how he might go about finding and securing such roles as he aspired to and in a manner that supports the ability to transition safely and rewardingly.
The traditional “old school” approach of working hard, keeping your nose clean and getting noticed is clearly no longer a relevant option you can rely on for securing such senior leadership positions. Neither is just banking on your results or track record going to get you sufficiently noticed. We have all experienced the “spin sell” of headhunters and I daresay that a number of our ego’s have “fallen” for their flattery. My clients also quickly learn that such senior Group roles are progressively less advertised in the traditional job seek ads.
Today, such roles are found and connected through ones network. And to find them, we have to develop a mixture of “going after them” and “being pulled up to them” by the right caliber such leaders seeing what we can bring to the table.
Needs, Wants and Avoids
First and foremost we will want to be sure that we know what we need and more importantly, what we want, and often the defining of that starts with knowing what we don’t want (as in avoids). My clients learn to develop a list of attributes across each of those three headings: needs, wants and avoids, which are then ranked (often with a tool called a preference matrix that “forces” you to rank them objectively). Hence if a head-hunter were to call, asking 3 or 4 pointed questions around your “not-negotiables”would very quickly allow you to decide whether you were or weren’t interested in having a chat.
How can you “fetch” or chase something if you don’t know what you want?
Do you have a succession plan in place?
I am amazed at how few people recognize the necessity of you having a succession plan in place before you can justifiably go after your next role. Please never underestimate how much potential employers will value your approach to this; one which, if like abandoning a project before it is completed, would leave serious doubts over your reliability and integrity. I teach my clients to use the fact that they have “rationalized themselves out of their job” by having developed suitable succession options as a selling point in their ” sales pitch”.
Social Media Visibility and Stepping Up
How good is your visibility overall and specifically in your anticipated marketplace? How well do you leverage social media? How professional is your Linked-In profile? Have you got a “business FaceBook page”? Do you know how to leverage Twitter to further enhance your visibility?
How often do you “share” or “post” something that might be of professional interest to those you are connected to? If you aren’t using any of the above, then I would urge you to get yourself into the 21st century very quickly and very smartly.
Winners “in the 5%” know the value of investing in good advice. Please understand that investing in developing and leveraging a solid social media presence is no longer an option, but a requirement today for your ongoing relevance in the marketplace and self promotion. This is where coaches can help you.
Pushing Yourself or Being Pulled Up?
I am aware that many a coaching program will focus on helping business clients developing their “self marketing strategy” and a range of approaches and techniques for “selling themselves”. I too have done quite some work in that space, particularly identifying and eliminating “personal conditioning obstacles” that deny these leaders their right self worth that prevents them from confidently selling themselves.
However, in my experience purely relying on “selling” is also becoming “old school”. I am known to coach quite alternative NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) approaches to selling, self promotion and influencing and what I am going to share with you now goes down that same path, starting with the question: “is the landing of your next role(s) dependent on you “selling” or have you developed a network willing to “pull you up” to the levels you aspire to”?
So here’s what we developed in the above coaching scenarios:
- First and foremost, there needs to be a goal including a realistic time-frame within which you wish such transitions to take effect in, supported by an outline of the desired role, its dimensions, possible geographies and expectations.
- Secondly, you’ll need the discipline to create the Me Time in which you invest time EVERY DAY in the necessary reading and research of the space you wish to grow into:
- This looks at the right industry bodies and communities and groups (there will be some very useful Linked-In groups you need to find) and read, read, read all about aspects of your industry (and the owners, managers and doyens of these properties, businesses or industries) you will probably have never thought or worried about.
- This will help develop the right “language” of that level you aspire to.
- It will help you find the right level people playing in this space and allow you to learn what they’re thinking and doing and looking for.
- It will enable you to connect with them via Linked In with a carefully worded invite.
- It will teach you the kind of KPI’s they need to deliver, so you can broaden your perspective, learn from that and use its content in your language.
- And above all it will expose you to the right kind of opportunities you are looking for.
- Thirdly, you’ll want to develop your network to include many more people “at your level and above”; mainly at the level you aspire to grow into and probably in your relevant industry. This can then be supported by setting a goal for instance to have connected on Linked-In with at least 50 such names by a set date. Go on, have an objective look at your current network and assess how well it would do justice to what I’m suggesting.
- Fourthly, you’ll want to share useful and interesting insights you come across in all this reading and research within and across your network. We spoke above about at least one a week, but if you are diarizing and in fact spending 30+mins a day in reading like this, you will find many more opportunities you’ll want to share. However beware there are not too many, otherwise you get into the “wolf-wolf” situation. But if you find stuff that will be of interest to the people you’re interested in, then once connected, you can send it to them and let that help you build relationships that lead to them wanting to “pull you up” with them.
- Fifthly, you’ll want to find different ways in which you contact, connect and engage with these right level of leaders in your industry that you aspire to first work for and then to emulate and succeed.
Your reading and research will help you find the “who’s who” in your chosen game and appropriate Linked-In invites and others in your network brokering introductions will gain you access to them.
Worried that they might often be in different cities and countries? Well what if your next business or overseas trip were to take you through their geography, and you planned a stopover to enable a meeting?
So can you see how you might be able to first find the right players and then develop your contacts with them into a mentoring relationship that will benefit them, their organisation(s) and you? How that can help you in stepping up by them pulling you up?
Think about it, when a business leader or professional younger or more junior than yourself approaches you, would you turn them away if they went about their pursuit professionally? Of course you wouldn’t. So why shouldn’t the people you aspire to finding and learning to emulate want to help pull you up?
So what does this all mean for you? May I presume you have found some new insights grouped together around this theme of how to approach your next role(s) in quite a different manner and that this step by step approach might aid you to confidently embark on some relevant thinking and planning towards your stepping up?
If you are already such a successful leader, how well are you “pulling” other good people such as you up to join you to further enhance and develop your (and their) success?
Can you see how this approach is focused on you doing what you need to do to stack all the odds better in your favour? How through consistent discipline you can build the right visibility within the right communities of leaders that will want to “pull you up” to join them in sharing the success? Success they have learned to achieve for themselves, for those dependent on them and for their organizations? Will you be stepping up like they did?
What if you could? And if you don’t feel ready to develop this on your own, why not avail yourself of a coach to help you through it like my client did? Go on contact me, and Let’s Talk Coaching.
Here are some other blogs relevant to and mentioned in this topic that may be of interest to you:
Subhendra Tripathy says
Well written article. Has got me thinking on how I can apply some of these to-dos in my career.