When we hear “Climbing the Corporate Ladder” we get a mental metaphorical image of a clean factory-produced precise safe set of steps. In actual fact, most executives would liken their experience of climbing the corporate ladder more like rock climbing – it’s more like a rough, edgy, menacing piece of rock where few dare to climb and fewer still, reach the top.
If you are one of those who are daring to make the climb, then here are four game changing keys to help you out.
ENGAGE your environment
Don’t be aloof to your industry, your workplace, and your colleagues. Immerse yourself in the business where you are intending to climb the ladder of success. Know the tricks of the trade, the ins and outs. Get to know the people who work alongside you (your peers and co-workers), above you (your managers, bosses, and other executives), and around you (parallel industries, partner companies, clients, customers, etc.). Build your professional network. Be as present and active as you can be. But make sure that your contributions are relevant, timely, effective, and impactful.
ESTABLISH multiple anchors
In rock climbing, you try to place as many anchors as you can on the surface of the rock so that you will have enough safety holds as possible, which not only help make the climb easier but can also save your life. The same is true in climbing the corporate ladder. You will need multiple anchors–mentors and peer support to help you in your climb. Mentors, like business coaches can be your “spotters” as you climb, speaking to you from a strategic vantage point. Your friends and colleagues are your “belayers”–in climbing, to belay is to protect a roped climber from falling by passing the rope through, or around the belayer’s hips to create friction. When seen from this angle, peer support becomes a valuable asset in your climb to success. After all, one of the most important life-saving tips when climbing is to NEVER CLIMB ALONE.
Climbing without the appropriate and prescribed gear and equipment is the surest way to meet your Maker. Climbing the Corporate Ladder unequipped with the necessary knowledge and skills can have equal repercussions of landing you at rock bottom. Equip yourself. Invest in your personal and professional enrichment. Connect with a certified business coach, attend seminars, participate in interest-based communities, read books, subscribe to blogs and relevant social pages. When you equip yourself, you secure your climb. Also, equipping yourself prepares you for the role you hope to take on when you reach the top.
Once you finally reach that coveted top, you take a deep breath, raise your hands in the air like the victor that you are, and soak it all in. The euphoria and rush of excitement feels like it can last a lifetime. But actually, it doesn’t. Before long it can and will get lonely at the top. No grand achievement is truly grand unless it overflows into the lives of other people and makes an impact on other things, outside ourselves and our own agendas.
Don’t be afraid of the saying, “Once you reach the top there’s no way to go but down.” Or that you become the biggest target and that people are plotting to take you down. Always remember that you are on top for a reason – you worked your ass of to be there. But also remember, YOU DID NOT DO IT ALONE. Show your appreciation for the journey you took and the people who helped you along by paying it forward to others.
Now it’s your turn to be someone’s spotter or belayer.