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- from the desk of Ian Christie
CEO & Executive Career Coach
Are You Ready to Take on an Executive Role?
Update: This article has been updated to Four Factors in Getting Promoted to an Executive Role
Are you ready to take on an executive role? You need to examine the “Nuances” of breaking through into the executive ranks. Readiness to take on an executive role depends to a large extent on the facts of your career history, the messaging, your in-person presentation, and the opportunity fit.
Your career history might result in a dynamic career trajectory, or the exact opposite, one that is scattered, or points to a lack of stability. The facts include the quality of the companies and roles you have worked in as well as your accomplishments therein. The facts also include the reasons for the transitions from job to job. And, if you are moving from being an individual contributor or small team manager, to an executive, the facts should point to evidence of the requisite competencies acquired to take on the bigger role. If the facts point to progressively more senior roles, and solid achievements delivering for your companies, then the facts are in your favour.
How well have you created an authentic marketing message about your personal value proposition? This means making sense of your experience and translating it into solid evidence as to why the next logical step is a leadership role. Many people have the assets, or a lot of them anyway, but fail to communicate and sell them effectively in their resume, cover letters, networking, and interviews. What you say and how you deliver it are key.
Your In-Person Presentation
Everything else could be perfect, but if there is a disconnect between your goals, your messaging, and who you actually appear to be in person, then you have a problem. You need to walk and talk like an “executive,” but of course, that is a broad statement. It depends on your industry, and what the norms are for leadership roles. It also depends on the company size, stage, and culture. Communication style, interpersonal skills, and other “soft-skills” are of great importance.
The Opportunity Fit
The probability of taking that next step is partially dependent on what you have to leverage. For example, if you have built up serious expertise in a particular industry, then you have more chance of getting that big role in a company in the same or a related industry. The same goes for a specific kind of product, service, operational model, or market expertise. Any of these could be the lever that gets you that next step. The trick is finding the right buyer who will value and pay for that expertise.
The other lever of course is management and leadership expertise. If you can point to a track record of sales management, for example, and other leadership roles, demonstrating that ability to successfully steward a piece of the business, then you have something else to sell.
This is about first knowing what you are selling, and second, knowing your market. If you pick a market that matches what you have to sell very well, then your chances of getting that leadership role are increased.
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