Over the years I have watched many talented mid-level executives work on their skills and expertise with the goal of getting noticed and then promoted. As I compare those that made themselves eligible, and those that were successful, I have discovered a key point of differentiation.
The successful candidates worked on, and developed a strategic viewpoint vs. their competitors.
Most hard-working people find themselves immersed in their daily duties and their personal whirlwind and infrequently look up to see where they are going. That means truly understanding why the business exists, what the business is attempting to be, what is happening with the competition & the marketplace, and what their personal role is in achieving the business plan.
The people that get promoted are the candidates that can see over the horizon and keep a balanced perspective between their work and the work of the business.
So here are some tips & challenges to help you be more strategic:
- Be a student of your industry instead of just your firm
- Read your industry trade journals and always compare and contrast
- Follow your competitors closely and never dismiss what they are doing. Learn from them.
- Read business publications: specifically the Wall Street Journal and biz magazines.
- Hone your understanding of your firm’s financial statements and how they compare to your industry
- Seek out industry leaders and ask them questions
- Ask your company leaders why their goals and strategies are important to the future
- Work on developing your experience gaps with outside workshops and seminars
- Find a mentor within in your firm that is a senior level strategic thinker and listen to their advice
- Craft your personal goals so that they link with the corporate strategies
- Enlist your boss to help you work on your strategic vision
Just as a ship captain must anticipate the weather beyond the horizon, you as a future leader must see a bigger picture instead of staring at the work in front of you today.
Work on yourself and your career!