Making the leap to a senior position in a business can come at any stage of your career. Opportunity and circumstance and can often thrust an employee into a managerial role, while for others the journey can take a little while longer. Whether you’ve got your sights set on a senior role in your current company or are on the market for an opportunity to take the reins, there are a number of simple steps that can be taken to give you a good head start:
1. Fine-tune your leadership skills
Any employee eying up the senior rung of the corporate ladder can improve their chances of landing a promotion by developing and practising their leadership skills. The good news is that commitment, passion and integrity form the basis of strong leadership, but it takes practice to master the art of influencing others, communicating ideas and making the right decisions under pressure. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect, and leadership is no different. Though you may not be in a senior position currently, it does not mean you cannot lead in projects, meetings, and nurturing junior staff.
2. Find a mentor
A great mentor can encourage personal and professional development by providing honest advice and practical guidance at every twist and turn of your career path. As well as helping you to identify where your strengths lie and which areas could be improved, learning from others who have “been there, done that and got the T-shirt” can prove to be instrumental in building your confidence as a leader.
3. Be visible
When employees attain a senior position, they soon discover visibility is a big part of the job description. To get there, individuals need to standout and be visible in one of two domains; either performing admirably for a consistent period of time, or by lifting up their colleagues and aiding their team to perform above and beyond expectations. Senior management teams love consistency in their staff and are much likelier to promote individuals who have proven their effort and desire to succeed over flash in the pan successes.
4. Drive innovation in your current role
Grace Hopper once said, “the most dangerous phrase in the language is “we’ve always done it this way.” When you join a new business, it can often be overwhelming at first, but fairly quickly you begin to start thinking of ways that you can drive innovation and fix processes. Senior positions are all about squeezing every bit of value you have out of your resources to smash your KPIs and exceed expectations. Consistently innovating should be at the forefront of all employees with ambitions to enter senior management.
5. Keep ahead of the curve
Senior staff steer the ship – that means they need to be agile in case of choppy waters ahead. Amidst rapid advances in technology and shifting customer demands, senior leaders must make it a priority to keep abreast of new industry trends so as to not find themselves drowning under a wave of change.
6. Never stop learning
On that note, the best leaders are those who are never complacent nor satisfied with resting on their laurels. If you want to be considered for a promotion either in your own company or for a senior role elsewhere, your focus should be on growing your knowledge and expanding your skillset. Consider taking a course in leadership at a night school or pursuing a return to fulltime academia with an MBA or a specialist qualification.
7. Take accountability
All good leaders know when to put their hands up in the air and accept fault. Infallibility is a con and has no place in the modern workplace. Transparency is key to connecting with the new generations joining the workforce and makes up the backbone to all good business transactions. Being accountable shows those above you in the business that you are both trustworthy and willing to learn from you mistakes, rather than taking pot-shots at others.
8. Push yourself outside your comfort zone
Growth comes from constantly pushing boundaries. The human body responds to stress by strengthening one’s self, and workplace durability goes hand in hand with accepting sometimes you need to go outside of your comfort zone to truly standout and develop. Learn a new skill, understand a new point of view and take time out of your hectic schedule to think of something that could be truly innovative to both the company you work for, as well as your own personal development.