Even experienced, successful executives need to ensure that they are always looking forward to the future. Being successful in the past is no guarantee of your future success. Effective career management is still necessary even at the top of the ladder.
Over the years, I have worked with senior executives and professionals who are very capable and have so much to offer, but they are not sure how to get to where they want to be. Even someone in the top seat of a company can feel unsure about where they are headed in the future. There is no secret sauce to get you to where you want to go, but there are some things that will help you get going in the right direction.
You need to have a vision.
How often (especially now in the era of GPS on your phone and in your car) do you set out to find a new location without a map or directions to get there? Probably not often, if ever. And why would you? It doesn’t make sense to set out blindly, especially if you want to reach your destination in any reasonable amount of time. The same holds true for creating your career management strategy.
Crafting a vision helps you align your abilities and interests with who you are, what you want, who you want to be with, and where you want to end up. It isn’t enough to say you want to be the CEO of your company, you also have to reconcile your professional aspirations with goals for your whole life—do your professional goals fit with your family’s expectations and/or needs? Do you have to move to an undesirable location to move up with your company? These and many other things matter and need to be thought out ahead of time to craft a path to the future you want as a person, not just as a professional.
Stop talking so much and listen.
It is amazing what you can learn if you just stop talking and really listen to those around you. Too often I come across senior leaders who just do not know when to stop talking.
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