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I began listening to Manager Tools roughly a year ago upon the recommendation of a friend. I have greatly enjoyed listening to every
cast and am very grateful to Mark and Mike for allowing us to benefit from their experience.

What do you believe a person who is begining their career and has apirations towards executive leadership needs to do in order to prepare themselves for such a position? What skills do they need to focus on developing in order to be considered for such a position later in their career?

bffranklin's picture

[quote="hagamanp"]
What do you believe a person who is begining their career and has apirations towards executive leadership needs to do in order to prepare themselves for such a position? What skills do they need to focus on developing in order to be considered for such a position later in their career?[/quote]

Not a senior executive, but thus far it looks like the path up entails a lot of the same things at any level:

Delivering results on the core responsibilities of your job, and once that's done, delivering results on the responsibilities of your boss's job (with their blessing, of course).

That and building your network and relationships with others.

jhack's picture

Stay focused. Deliver.

Treat everyone fairly. Be honest.

Read, study, learn. Practice, develop your "skills."

John

HMac's picture

Don't limit your mental focus to your individual or departmental deliverables. Make sure your understand your company's objectives, and the needs it's fulfilling in the marketplace. As you move up (getting closer to executive levels) this will become more important.

For now, your ACTIONS need to be focused on your deliverables and helping your boss achieve his/hers. But take the time to study and learn the bigger picture. Think of it as an investment in your future.

Nobody's gonna ask your opinion about the company's strategies (and as a first line relatively new manager, it's wise to keep 'em to yourself :wink: ).

Think of the iceberg: above the surface, your visible activities are all about making good on delivering your commitments to those above you, developing your team, being collaborative with your peers. Below the surface, you're learning, learning, learning.

-Hugh

dad2jnk's picture

Building upon John and bffranklin. Stay focused and deliver on your core responsibilities.

Find an emerging technology or methodology in your field that improves your team's productivity and adopt it. If it works, champion it. As champion, your job is to communicate your team's success to senior management. You will ride on the coat tails of that success.

Once that productivity becomes routine, find another. Continuous improvement of your team brings the best people to want to work for you. With that will bring more DRs and more interesting assignments. Before you realize, senior management is looking to you as a top recruit for their teams.

Let the pace of change be your ally. You don't have to be successful at each turn, the fact that you are trying to improve your team puts you ahead of 90% of your competition.

Good luck.

Ken

hagamanp's picture

Thank you for your posts. I appreciate each of you responding to my question.

careerguru's picture

[quote]What do you believe a person who is begining their career and has apirations towards executive leadership needs to do in order to prepare themselves for such a position? What skills do they need to focus on developing in order to be considered for such a position later in their career?[/quote]

Learning great communication skills is one of the most important areas to work on right from the start of your career. Lots of people can be technically good at what they do. What makes them stand out is the ability to communicate well to all levels of their organisation, to colleagues in professional bodies etc etc.

I recently talked to the MD of a company who is convinced that joining his local Toastmasters speaking club straight after college made a huge difference to his early success.

BJ_Marshall's picture

[quote="dad2jnk"]Let the pace of change be your ally. You don't have to be successful at each turn, the fact that you are trying to improve your team puts you ahead of 90% of your competition.[/quote]

Don't be afraid to screw up big time. Everyone makes mistakes; strive to make no errors. I was told once that an error is a mistake you never took the time to fix.

I'm nowhere close to an executive, but I've made some huge mistakes in my managerial career. I asked for help, learned a lot in the process, and came out much stronger the next time I tried something as challenging.

Cheers,
BJ

tomw's picture

Figure out what your natural strengths are and start building them.

If you are a gifted presenter, a natural sales rep, a detailed analyst, or a born leader, start developing that skill now. It takes time to develop your natural talent into something that everyone who meets you notices.

HMac's picture

[quote="TomW"]Figure out what your natural strengths are and start building them.[/quote]

....and don't get sidetracked doing a lot of things that AREN'T your strength just because you think they're part of a "career" progression....

-Hugh

tomw's picture

[quote="HMac"][quote="TomW"]Figure out what your natural strengths are and start building them.[/quote]

....and don't get sidetracked doing a lot of things that AREN'T your strength just because you think they're part of a "career" progression....

-Hugh[/quote]

Hugh makes a really critical point. It's one thing to correct a weakness that's severe and is hurting you (damage control), but it will probably never be a strength for you.

HMac's picture

Just to add a little more of my thinking:

Don't ever stop being an expert on something other than "management."

Manager-Tools is the greatest way I know to become a truly exceptional manager. I'm just cautioning that the skills necessary to managing others can't be your [i]only [/i]area of expertise if you want to stay in control of the ups and downs of a long career....

Look: over the course of many years in the workplace, there are gonna be times and roles where being a great manager is key to your success. And there are gonna be other times, other roles, other organizations, where having other expert knowledge or skills will be key to your success.

So you have to keep your hand in both. Yeah, you're gonna have to work on TWO things... :o

-Hugh

tomw's picture

To build even further on that:
my personal stance is that any exceptional professional is great at two things. The choice of those two things is what makes a person great at what they do. Usually, management is NOT one of those things.

I might be a software expert, but it's only when you combine it with my strength in change management that I really stand out from the crowd against my competitors.

The fact that I can manage my team well is just one more thing that adds to the mix.

HMac's picture

I just think that it's easy to lose perspective. I'm of the opinion that very few US companies [i]really [/i]value management (the result being a crying need for resources like Manager-Tools).

I'm sure there are exceptions (and I'd love to hear about them), but in my experience, it's rare to hear about US companies that:

[list][b]INVEST[/b] in ongoing management development;
[b]REWARD[/b] bonuses or discretionary pay for exemplary practice of the the discipline of management;
[b]PROMOTE[/b] managers because of their management practices.[/list:u]

I'm not saying that it desn't play some part in compensation and promotion decisions - I just think it plays [u]some[/u] part, and the rest of the decision is based on factors other than management skills.

Bottom line:
As M/M often say, being a great manager is a likely way to differentiate yourself, and to produce results. But if you want the most opportunity to succeed, then you should "diverisfy your portfolio:" be a great manager AND be an expert in an area that's core to your business or the market your business competes in...

-Hugh

BJ_Marshall's picture

I don't know if others do this, but I pay really close attention whenever my boss or boss' boss says we "should" do something. Usually, these are just idle musings like, "Man, we really should come up with a better way to do X."

I don't always act on them, but I do think about them and decide whether it's worth my acting on. Some of "my" best "initiatives" have come from paying attention to these idle musings.

Cheers,
BJ

jemflower's picture

[quote="hagamanp"]What do you believe a person who is begining their career and has apirations towards executive leadership needs to do in order to prepare themselves for such a position?[/quote]

Some further tips that have helped me:

(i) invest in yourself - ties in with a lot of what has been said before but cannot, in my opinion, be over-emphasised. Make sure you take the time to learn and develop.

(ii) Find someone (or even several people) whom you really admire and respect and ask them to be your mentor. It can be someone at work, outside of work, even in a completely different field. Sometimes, you just need to bounce ideas off of someone who really has been there and done it and who can give you guidance.

:) j

Mark's picture

Hello all. Good to be back.

This is an easy question, one that is gotten wrong an awful lot. Thankfully, there are many intelligent responses above.

The question is, basically, "what must a junior person do to PREPARE...". It's easy to miss that the very POINT of the question is wrong.... You don't do anything just "TO PREPARE". When I get this question from junior people - all the time! - it scares me.

[b]Stop doing things to prepare! [/b]Do what you are supposed to do. Do your job. Deliver RESULTS.

The moment you start doing things to prepare, you begin to live in the future...and that's not effective. The moment you start "preparing", and you get THAT right, and then lose track of results, too many want to say, "But I did everything that I've been reading."

Sure, it would be nice if you had a choice of 15 things that COULD prepare you, and they all delivered results, and so you need guidance on which are the best things to work on, thinking that you can get results AND prepare. But that's NEVER THE CASE. It's only one or two things that deliver results, and that's job and you dependent.

The answer is simple: RESULTS. Not because they prepare you well - though they do. It is the answer because results are the engine of the organization, and that's your first responsibility.

Whatever you're being measured on, NAIL IT.

Mark