How to accelerate your career to take a seat at the table

By Robert Half on 13 November 2018

Are you yearning to join the C-Suite?

Have you spent what feels like forever as a middle-level manager and now you want to take a seat at the table?

With the help of these eight important steps, you can leave the middle-level manager comfort zone behind and fast forward your career to become a boardroom executive.

1. Demonstrate passion

To excel in your career, you must show passion. Being passionate about something means that you will be engaged in what you do and stand out from the crowd.

It also allows others to believe in you and be motivated by you. It’s crucial that you demonstrate passion in what you do today as mid-level manager, not only for your own growth towards a more senior position, but for that of the company and your team members to recognise you as a promising future leader.

2. Learn from those in senior positions

Working for the right leader is the first logical step to becoming a leader yourself. Building a network of strong mentors and coaches that you can learn from will help you gain an executive mindset.

Use these mentorship opportunities to develop your business acumen as well. By networking with people from different parts of the business too and taking the time to understand how everything works and fits together, you will be able to develop your strategic thinking.

3. Leave the comfort zone behind

Moving away from what you know can be daunting, but good executives embrace the unknown.

Instead of taking a big leap, take one small step at a time. Start by networking with all levels of the organisation, making yourself known to them by adding value where you can.

Make it your mission to understand all aspects of running the business, whilst being mindful of the costs associated. Approach every new, unknown skill as a chance to expand your level of expertise and boost your reputation so that people know that you are ambitious to grow and learn.

4. Set flexible career goals

If you want a seat at the table, create a plan for how you will get there and in what timescale. Be prepared to face change throughout your journey though. Once you have the basis of your plan in place, speak to the right people to help you achieve your career goal. Work with your immediate supervisor to help develop your plan so that your leaders know that you want to progress.

Achieving your career goal is going to require a combination of building relationships, professional training, achieving results and lots of emotional intelligence. Along your journey, you may be faced with having to do tasks that you don’t want to do. Getting involved will show that you’re willing to put in the hard work and can also help to widen your expertise. Just adjust your plan accordingly and keep your end goal in view.

5. Be brave and boost your value

Executives often need to make tough decisions and follow through on them, so you need to develop executive courage.

Confront challenging situations, try new strategies and engage in crucial conversations. If you are perceived in a positive way, you will become an influencer which will boost your value within the company. That will help you move yet another step nearer towards your ultimate goal of having a seat at the table.

6. Don’t be all business all the time

A common misconception is that to get ahead in business and gain a seat at the table, you need to be giving 110% constantly. However, The Corporate Executive Board found that employees who had a good work-life balance work 21% harder than those who don’t. Be mindful of this as you take your next steps.

Become a role model for others in terms of achieving balance and encouraging others to do the same will increase your teammates’ desires to stay in their roles, which will boost the productivity of the team as well as your leadership potential.

7. Exude executive presence

You know you are great at your job, you understand how the company works and where it wants to be, but becoming a senior leader is about knowing how to behave like an executive.

When interacting with others, think about the impression you are creating, your interpersonal skills, body language, effective listening skills, how you manoeuvre through office politics and how you project authentic charisma. All these qualities will help to create your “executive presence” and will move you one step closer to the boardroom.

8. Don’t give up on a seat at the table

Getting a seat at the table isn’t going to be easy, but determination is the key to your success. If your goal is to get there, it’s important to stay focused and fully invest in your career development.

There will be times in the role of an executive when your perseverance will be called upon to hit a KPI or to see a major project to completion. That attitude of determination will be a crucial factor for you to take a leap towards more boardroom responsibilities.

Follow these steps and you could see your career goal of having a seat at the table become a reality in the not too distant future.

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