Open executive positions can be few and far between. While most executive job openings are due to someone leaving the firm, outsiders with executive experience are often selected to fill them. However, there are ways for a manager within an organization to get a foot in the C-suite door from the inside.
If you’re ready to “level up” as a leader, follow these tips from the members of Forbes Coaches Council. Below, 15 of them share their top advice for moving from a managerial role into an executive position.
1. Be A Source Of Inspiration
People advocate for those who inspire them the most. Become a source of inspiration for your employees and leadership team based on how you connect authentically, go the extra mile, lend a compassionate ear and enable them to find solutions through thoughtful questioning. These are some ideas that help you stand out as an executive who employees will admire as a leader. - Arthi Rabikrisson, Prerna Advisory
2. Look For Opportunities To Serve Others
Do the best job you can in your current position while constantly looking for opportunities to serve others. This can include volunteering to work on projects with top executives where you can add to their contributions. When you do this, you then get indirect mentoring and sponsorship. Finding ways to contribute helps you gain recognition in ways that are more aligned with servant leadership. - Susan Madsen, Jon M. Huntsman School of Business
3. Learn From The Best
Having the right advocate and mentor is key for any manager looking to up their leadership to the executive level. Being able to take advice, gain help to navigate the pitfalls and learn about the developmental requirements from those who have done it is highly beneficial when you’re looking to move up. To be the best, learn from the best! - Rakish Rana, The Clear Coach
4. Communicate With Impact
Too many professionals think having another degree or “X years of experience” is what will get them to the next level. In a more competitive world, knowledge and titles have become commodities that make people “experts.” However, those who are able to become true authorities in their field are the ones who stand out. It’s about simplifying concepts, connecting dots and communicating with impact. - Petra Zink, impaCCCt
5. Create A Roadmap To Success Lay out a plan so that you can have an objective roadmap to success. All too often, I work with leaders that take this next step to the executive level and feel that they have arrived. How can you remain curious about enhancing your skill set? Target areas that you want to develop as you take on this new role and create a plan that you can review, consistently engaging with your stakeholders along the way for support. - Bryan Powell, Executive Coaching Space
6. Get Results And Build Relationships The most powerful combination of actions you can take is to get results and to build relationships. Results alone may get you noticed, but that’s about it. Building strong relationships with people on the leadership team who will be your peers will get their confidence and vote. If you focus on one and not the other, you’re more likely to fall short. Focus on both, and you have a great chance! - Purdeep Sangha, Sangha Worldwide
7. Demonstrate Big-Picture Thinking Demonstrate big-picture thinking and the ability to bring others along to deliver results. Start by establishing a vision and aspirational goals for a new idea. Build support and excitement with leadership and peers around this new vision. Look for opportunities where you can test and learn to show iterative successes. Finally, share your success with the organization and continue to scale. - Alan Trivedi, ADAPTOVATE 8. Be Able To Communicate Your Value Be an excellent “wordsmith” to craft yourself as a leader. If you can poignantly describe who you are and what you contribute, you are well on your way. Many arbitrarily seek the next level, and that’s where things get murky. Find a way to describe what distinguishes you from the pack. Act to make those distinguishing characteristics recognizable to others. Know what you want, and then level up! - Marita Decker, FutureCourse Education
9. Create A Development Plan What skills, competencies and qualities are needed in the organization where you are seeking an executive role? How do your skills, competencies and leadership qualities align with what is needed? The first step is to answer these questions through self-reflection, research and 360-degree feedback. From there, create a development plan based on your strengths and gaps that includes clear steps to help you grow - Melissa Eisler, Wide Lens Leadership 10. Know Why You Want What You Want As you grow into higher levels of leadership, you will still play a dual role of serving those you lead and serving those you follow. Some tips for growing into an executive role: Know why you want what you want. Good leadership always values people. Finding success is a marathon. Base decisions on principles, not optics. And remember, critical thinking and self-awareness are necessary no matter the title. - Denise Russo, School of Thoughts
11. Understand Your Strengths And Weaknesses An emerging leader who is preparing to advance to the executive level must have a keen understanding of their leadership characteristics, strengths, weaknesses and blind spots. Having a willingness to go within and dig deeper to access the highest and best version of themselves will prepare them to successfully transition into a role with more responsibility where the stakes are higher. - Emily Rogers, Emily Rogers Consulting + Coaching
12. Have A Clear Succession Plan If you want to move up the ranks, always make sure you’ve got one or two people on your team who are ready to step into your shoes. That means identifying high-potentials, developing their capabilities and giving them experiences to prepare them for greater responsibilities. You’ll be easier to promote if you have successors waiting in the wings. - Gabriella Goddard, Brainsparker Innovation Academy
13. Conduct A Personal Gap Analysis The critical first step to leveling up to executive is conducting a personal gap analysis. This provides a concrete understanding of what kind of skills, experience or competencies might be missing for the opportunity you seek. Then, a plan can be developed to address the gaps. If a manager isn’t able to do this on their own, hiring a coach will enable them to walk through it and create a plan together. - Lisa Marie Platske, Upside Thinking, Inc.
14. Develop Emotional And Cognitive Agility Focus on developing your emotional and cognitive agility. The modern leader needs to be quick on their feet, highly adaptive and able to effectively navigate organizational complexities, nuances and overall messiness as they interact with their people. The best leaders are integrators who can make connections across the organization and with key stakeholders. - Jonathan H. Westover, Utah Valley University & Human Capital Innovations, LLC
15. Understand The Role In Its Entirety Transition to executive leadership is a big leap and requires courage, humility and discipline. It is vital to first understand the role in its entirety and then complete assessments to identify gaps in executive competencies, skills, knowledge and expertise. - Lori Harris, Harris Whitesell Consulting
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