Many organisations today are cautious about promoting their staff to senior executive roles. Why? One reason is that many have found that internal promotees face a big risk of failing. In fact, some recent studies have found that up to 40% of internal promotions fail.
So what behaviours do you need to exhibit to have the best chance of being promoted to a senior executive role and then actually succeed in it?
Here’s our top 5:
1. High Energy and Unwavering Focus
Successful executives have seemingly boundless energy. They are self-driven, requiring little from their manager (or others) to stay motivated, engaged and on track. Additionally, they are perseverent and resilient so they have the ability to bounce back quickly from setbacks and disappointments and keep going.
2. Deliver Results
Put simply, they achieve their KPIs and more. They are goal-focused, driven, ambitious and have the desire to succeed. They are known within their organisation for being high performers in their current roles. They can be relied upon to deliver what they promise.
Whilst the above two qualities are necessary for promotional success, they are relatively common in the workplace. In our opinion, it is the following 3 points that really work to separate the promotional ‘wheat from the chaff’ so to speak.
3. Imaginative ‘Big Picture’ Thinkers
Top executives are able to envision that which is not currently there. They can remove themselves from the current, the day-to-day, and the minutia, to think strategically about their industry, their organisation and their function. They are able to see beyond their own functional expertise to the whole organism that is the organisation. They are open to change and able to think in a way which identifies trends and themes in information. They are able to comfortably focus on the future rather than the present. They love innovation and are prepared to take well-thought-out, calculated risks.
4. Lead not Manage
All that which has made the individual a success to date – keeping their finger tightly on the pulse of their area, department or function – can unravel a senior executive career. Why? Because successful senior executives are willing to lead rather than manage. Instead of (micro) managing, controlling, overseeing, supervising and ensuring deliverables are delivered, they articulate their vision, select the right people, engage them and then ‘let go.’ They let go so that their people can focus their energies and talents on delivering to that vision. Strong visionary communicators, who can passionately influence others, is a critical success factor for senior executives.
5. Learning Agility
Successful executives learn. Every day. They have an inquiring mind where they explore, seek to understand, question, re-question and reflect. They may be experts in their field but they never feel they have learnt it all. They are life-long learners, who frequently nourish their minds with new ideas, information and concepts.
Kris Reynolds is Partner at Let’s Talk Career, an executive coaching and career transition consultancy for professionals www.letstalkcareer.com . She is an experienced Executive Coach, with a Masters Degree in Leadership from the University of Southern Queensland, and over 20 years senior Human Resource Management experience. She is a Fellow of the Australian Human Resources Institute (AHRI) and a member of the International Coach Federation (ICF).
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