By Perminus Wainaina
“I’m afraid I will never get to the C-suite level I so desire to get to!”
This was Julia’s sentiment during our career mentorship program a few years back.
Julia had been in employment for nine years. In this time, she had started as an intern and later became a permanent employee. Her friends, however, who got into the job market around the same time as she did were holding supervisory and managerial positions – something she aspired to do.
After six years of no growth, Julia thought the company she was working for was the problem. She started applying for managerial roles in other organizations, but her applications mostly went unanswered.
For the few interview calls she got, she would soon after receive a regret email.
Julia decided to stick where she was and work on growing her career.
It has now been nine years, and still, nothing!
“I feel like I’m the laughing stock amongst my friends!” says Julia.
“The people whom we graduated together are now building their houses and buying cars, and I’m still here, earning just slightly more than I was all those years ago.”
Are you in a similar situation as Julia?
Are you overdue for promotion into managerial positions?
Oftentimes, transitioning into top tier management is not easy. Professionals hoping to be promoted to these executive-level positions face high expectations and competing demands. They may also feel less supported than they did when working for previous promotions. However, many feel that facing these challenges is worth the reward of a top-level position.
But how do you get there? Do you know what skills and habits are most valued by companies when filling executive-level positions?
Here are five habits that you should possess, as you prepare to take a leadership position:
1. Strategic Thinking
In today’s global business environment, strategic thinking is essential for overall success and creating greater value for customers. It helps to create a new framework for the direction of the company.
As a manager, you will need to develop the ability to strategically plan for the future, set new directions for your organization or department, and stay ahead of the competition. You will be expected to be able to answer the question, “What do we need to do, and why?”
Strategic thinking blends innovation with research, creativity, and industry best practices.
While you want to get that promotion, you need to remember there are added responsibilities that come along with the promotion.
If you are aspiring for a managerial position, for example. Besides getting your work done, you’ll also need to supervise other employees in the team. You’ll have to ensure everyone is up to speed on their work, and the team has met its targets.
Additionally, being in a position of leadership means interacting with the team members and identifying their strengths, weaknesses, and how this can impact their productivity at work.
When I asked Julia if she had taken time to develop effective leadership skills, she admittedly said no.
Before an employer can promote you, they first need to see either leadership skills in you or the very least, you having leadership potential.
As a professional at the decision-making level, knowing where to go is only a small part of the equation – knowing how to get others to follow you there is the harder and more important part.
3. Communication & Relationship Building
Are you the kind of professional who seeks feedback from your supervisor, or do you wait until the annual review?
Julia admits she rarely asks for feedback.
“As long as I know my work is okay, I don’t normally go looking for my supervisor.”
When you actively seek feedback from the employer, you’re able to improve on areas that will help you excel at work. The employer also sees your efforts and initiative to grow and improve.
Moreover, when you create a professional relationship with the supervisor, they are likely to guide you to how you can grow your career.
Being able to speak with confidence is a prerequisite for leadership success. That’s because as a leader, you will spend a lot of your time listening to and presenting information to others, and it is of paramount importance that you be able to do so in an effective way.
4. Innovation & Change
Many organizations expect those in top leadership positions to develop new solutions and drive innovation on a large scale. You should be comfortable operating in a state of constant change and always be looking for ways to improve current operations, such as building better processes, creating stronger commercial relationships, or upgrading systems.
Creativity means having lots of ideas, but innovation requires implementing the good ones. An innovative leader not only has or enables their team to have lots of ideas, but also has the faith of their team.
An innovative leader also appreciates the naysayers. Naysayers help avoid unintended consequences. It’s not only imperative to build a culture that encourages team members to openly share their crazy ideas, but also to foster an environment that empowers them to take initiative and follow through with a project to fruition without being micromanaged.
5. Technical Skills
You need to be intimately familiar with the body of knowledge that falls under your specialty, such as finance, technology, or law. You should seek to understand how technology impacts your industry as well as the company, and be familiar with how to leverage technology to ensure success for the organization.
To get to the top management level of your career, you have to have a core set of skills that employers will scan for when selecting top executives. Develop the above skills and be on your way up the career ladder.
Perminus Wainaina is the C.E.O and Managing Partner at Corporate Staffing Services, a leading HR consultancy firm based in Westlands. Through career mentorship programs, he assists mid-level and senior professionals get solutions to complex and challenging career issues that they are facing. Click here for more on career mentorship.N.B: Would you like us to consider you for a job opening? Boost your job search. Upload Your CV Here. It's FREE