To be considered for executive level positions, managers should concentrate on ways to develop their career. By assessing the possibilities, managers can make plans which will move them toward consideration for upper level jobs. They need to take charge of their own career development so that they have opportunities to develop and exhibit the core selection skills. There are seven ways to do this. First, managers can seek ways to increase their visibility within the company. These might include volunteering for work on a task force or other cross-functional group so that others within the company can see their talents. They should let their managers know of their interest, and then let their work create an “organizational buzz.”
Building an external network is important so that managers do not become too inwardly focused. This network can include customers and industry groups and associations to help them keep abreast of market trends, new industry practices, and the diverse information needed in today’s changing business world. Some managers may want to consider a lateral move to gain a broader understanding of the business as a whole. They should consider the move carefully and only seek it if it works as part of their career development plan. For example, they should be able to identify what they will learn, what support they will get from their boss and others, and where they can go if they are successful.
Managers can sometimes work with their boss to engineer a new assignment or position which will enhance their career development. The starting point for this approach is performing at a consistently high level. Managers should then review the nonnegotiable factors to be sure they are displaying the basics needed for a new assignment. In meetings with their boss and others, they can describe the possibilities, enlist support and build relationships with others, help define the project, and prepare for their own replacement.
Those wanting to be considered for upper-level positions need to show that they have the ability to learn which allows them to understand both new information and new processes quickly. When learning in a new assignment or outside of their area of expertise, getting feedback about their performance is essential and needs to be actively sought out. Successful leaders are those capable of fundamentally changing their style and approach to fit the situation and learning from their successes and failures.
Managers may have some input in finding just the right assignment to demonstrate their abilities in learning and adapting quickly. These are assignments outside of their comfort zone and force them to rely on others while taking overall responsibility from the very beginning. Finally, managers can look for creative ways to show development in their current job. This goes beyond classroom training and might include such things as taking a tour of sites with the boss, arranging to be tutored in another area, or volunteering for work in a different group.
Prospective leaders need to take an active look at their own career development. Would like to divide the possibilities into two areas. The central parts are what happens on-the-job, including stretch assignments, on-the-job activities, and expanding or modifying current jobs. The external parts occur outside of the job and include training and education, feedback and coaching, self-initiated development, and external involvements. The goal of all of these activities is to increase visibility within the company as a top candidate for promotion to executive levels.
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