After toiling away in middle management, it seems the next logical step is movement to a senior leadership role. But contrary to popular belief, this is not simply just some next step in the career ladder. The difference in mindset and necessary intangibles between middle management and senior leadership is more like a “jump” than a “step”. Moving into senior management means one’s responsibilities are more on the strategic level than the tactical level. This means that what you deal with daily is more abstract instead of tangible. However, the impact is far more wide-ranging and critical to the organization’s success. If you are looking for the top brass to tap you for a position in a senior leadership role, develop these vital skills to provide the best chance of making the leap.
Senior Leadership Has Ownership in their DNA
As of this moment, phrases such as “not my job” or “I’m not responsible for that” can no longer be part of your vocabulary. True leaders take ownership for the situations in which they are involved. When you are in senior leadership, no one is going to want to hear about how inept certain team members are. Nor will they want to hear you complain about timelines or resources. When it comes to their senior leadership, top brass will only want to know if you or did you not achieve objectives. So, if you are looking to make the job, you need to start now. If there is a weakness on your project team, take responsibility for shoring it up. Tight timeline on a report that is due? There is no law that says you must stop working at 5 pm. Being part of senior leadership is about getting the job done, regardless of the hand you are dealt (at least for the successful ones, right).
Senior Leadership Vision (and the Ability to Communicate It)
Strong senior leadership does not just follow directions. They blaze trails. A key aspect of blazing a trail is seeing things that are not there. At least not yet. Visionaries see the end game before anything has even been mapped out to achieve it. Leaders of vision conceive of what an organization can become. Characteristics of those with vision include the desire to innovate, willingness to take risks, persistence in the face of resistance, communication skills, and a laser like focus. If you are looking to make that leap, you need to step back and take stock of yourself. Have you learned to dream? And dream big? Have you at least worked on a vision for your own personal development? When it comes to this characteristic, thinking like everyone else is not the ticket.
Senior Leadership Galvanizes Troops Toward Organizational Mission
The key word embedded in the phrase senior leadership is the word “lead”. An organization’s mission means nothing if you cannot communicate it and get others on board with moving in the same direction to achieve it. You want to leave? Then you better be able to connect employees with the company’s mission. Top brass will want someone who can motivate, inspire, and focus employee energy and efforts. This can be achieved by setting clear and measurable goals as well as offering regular feedback. It is more than likely in the current position you hold, there are opportunities to show and demonstrate the skill set. Good leaders keep their employees engaged and feeling heard. According to Naz Beheshti, a contributor to ForbesWomen, employees who feel their voice is heard are 4.6 times more likely to feel empowered to perform their best work.
Looking to make that move? Do not wait for someone to notice you. Be vocal about it. Make an impact by showing you are a mentor and a leader. Motivate others to perform their jobs better. Build connections at the leadership level and use them. Work on your skill set and do not be afraid of feedback.