Career development should never stop, even if you reach “the top.” In fact, especially when you reach “the top”!
There will always be a new opportunity or challenge out there if you look for it. Your development is your responsibility. It’s your future. Only you can define your success. You can either be one of those who finds development opportunities or one who waits for their leader to create opportunities for them.
Which person are you?
If you’re waiting for opportunity to find you, you could be waiting a while. Surveys show 77% of employees feel they are ‘on their own’ to develop their careers.
Career development is a proactive process which should be driven by you. Ask yourself this. What do you want to achieve by the end of 2021? Knowing your goals, how do you need to develop to make that happen?
Here are seven proven strategies for career development which work, no matter what level you’re at.
- Plan it, don’t wing it.
While it’s possible you’ll reach your career potential without a strategy, it’s a high risk strategy. You know where you want to go, so build a clearly articulated executive career plan.
- Define your vision.
- Set your goals.
- Assess your current position and skillset.
- Define the areas in which you need improvement.
- Identify options for gaining the skills and experience you need.
- Develop a timeline to keep you on target as you seek the development you need.
- Include times for self-assessment so you can monitor your progress.
- Work on important goals
Career development is a long-term process so it’s easy to be distracted from your plans. Crises, pressures, pandemics – things will get in the way. You’ll need discipline to keep your focus on the important goals, not the shiny new ones. Always go back to your plan and ask yourself which will make the biggest difference to you and your organisation.
- Sharpen your competitive edge.
Leadership is personal. It’s about personality, influence, vision, authority and all those hard to quantify elements that make the difference between being good or great. Look for your competitive edge. It’s what makes you different which gives you an advantage. Think about your personal brand and how you present yourself. This is a crucial part of career development, but it’s usually overlooked. Don’t miss this opportunity to put your stamp on your career.
- Focus on excellence.
Find what you’re good at and become excellent. Your passion, energy and enthusiasm will drive results for you and the business. At senior leadership levels, this is what people are looking for – inspiration to follow.
- Pay attention to feedback.
Feedback is a source of information which helps you to continually improve. If you’re not getting performance feedback, seek it out. Remember that feedback doesn’t always have to be formal. Pay attention to what your people are saying to you. Ask questions like “What could I have done better?” or “What do you need from me?” Talk with your leaders, talk with your team, talk with your stakeholders, and talk with your coach or mentor. And listen to what they say.
- Nurture your network
You will already have a network of peers and contacts around you but now is the time to actively build and strengthen it. It’s not just a great source of information. It opens doors to opportunities, provides expert advice from experienced professionals, and brings you to the notice of influential people. Build relationships and remember that it’s a two-way process so look for a win-win in every interaction.
- Find a coach to partner with you in your career.
Working with a coach can accelerate your career progression. A coach broadens your perspective, challenges your assumptions, and helps increase your self-awareness and emotional intelligence. With the help of a coach, you’ll develop a better-balanced action plan and be held accountable against it. When you lose hope or motivation, your coach is there to re-invigorate you and your career dreams.
These strategies work but you need to make career development a habit.
It’s not something you can focus on now and then and expect to get results.
And if you’re concerned that you’ll be focusing too much on yourself, let me remind you that as a leader, Executive or CEO, it’s your responsibility to identify business opportunities, inspire engagement, stimulate creative ideas, and lead the organisation towards its goals. The more effort you put into your career development, the stronger your team and organisation will be.
If you want to accelerate your career and fulfil your leadership potential, now is the time to do it. Step up. Make it happen. Choose Executive Coaching with Linda Murray. The individually designed professional development program is tailored specifically to you and your development needs, helping you accomplish the success you have always wished for.