© Tweeter Linder 2016 – All rights reserved. Photo by author.
If you aspire to build capabilities for executive roles you need to start early. Consider 3 main trajectories as your baseline. When mapping roles on these three trajectories some will allow you to grow in two dimensions at the same time. These three trajectories give you a sound platform for an executive career.
Grow the number of people you manage
A move from individual contributor to your first people management role is to manage a team of direct reports. Next challenge is to managing team of managers. The further up you grow the more multifaceted people leadership skills you need. Selecting team members, building teams and managing for performance are core skills. And each step of the ladder represents a significant step up in demand. Partly due to the demand, but even more so the narrowing pyramid of roles closer to the top. Consider mentoring early in your career. Staff development become a more and more central of your leadership skills.
Growth the budgets and sales quota you manage
The money management aspect is the second big trajectory. Your budgetary responsibilities grow with larger and larger roles. Detailed cost and sales opportunity tracking skills are key to run efficient operations. You excel by achieving an optimal balance between resource use and business outcomes. This aspect of your executive skills is coupled to how well you deal with pressure. Financial results and deadlines are table stakes. Aspire to pick up corporate governance skills as secretary as early as possible in your career. It is a valuable complement to feel the heat without being in the aim of fire.
Grow experience from different parts of the business
Executive positions require experience from different fields of the business experience. Sales is the most fundamental experience for executives. Customer facing roles develop a sense of urgency and foster an outside-in driven approach. Marketing and pre-sales experience develop your skills in seeing markets beyond the deal at hand. Sourcing and supply chain roles develop your negotiation capabilities. And how both sides of the deal table work. In service intensive businesses you need operations experience. In the same way as product houses promote a stint in product management or research and development areas. Last but not least you need experience from different countries. Business life requires executives to manage diversity well across professions and cultural borders.
Questions to ask yourself to develop in this area
- What type of Executive positions should I aim for – your direction is likely set before 35.
- Which people management skills should I focus on developing next – selecting and growing people is key to your success
- How do I prove myself in steps for increasing commercial responsibilities – leverage both sales and sourcing roles to grow.
- Which type of customer facing experience are central for my executive career development – B2B or B2C is a choice you do early
- Which cultures do I want to work in – you quickly get an Americas, APAC or EMEA label and it can be hard to move in between.
Additional reading suggestions
- A senior leaders guide to learning and development [WHITEPAPER] – by New Brunswick
- Seeking their fortune: the career path for top executives in big companies [BLOGPOST] – by Wharton
- Are you really managing for results [ARTICLE] – by FastCompany
- 5 ways to ensure team members develop into great leaders [ARTICLE] – by Forbes
- Breadth of experience vs. depth of knowledge – trends in developing and managing talent [ARTICLE] – by NAIS