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Executive Career Management

As an executive, it’s easy to focus all of your energy on growing your business and helping your team to evolve and develop. Heading into 2018, there is probably a long list of initiatives you hope to roll out that will deliver business processes improvement, unlock latent potential in your team members, and offer long-lasting benefits for your organization.

But don’t forget about your own personal continuous improvement project: yourself. With 2017 nearly behind us, the time has come— once again— to articulate your New Year’s resolutions and create an actionable strategy for achieving them. 

Like most of our leading companies, universities and research organisations are homogeneous at the leadership level. There are some great initiatives in Australian higher education and elsewhere to help promote equity and diversity in important target areas like science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine (STEMM), for example the Athena Swan Charter in the UK and Australia’s SAGE pilot. There are still things you can do to increase the chances of success in developing your own career, and to help others.

It is often the case that those who seek out executive career guidance do so because of a significant or imminent event in their career, such as an unexpected period of transition or an upcoming interview. But in reality, no matter where you are in your career, executive career guidance can have a dramatic impact on your career trajectory.

Job security is something everyone wants, but few do anything about achieving it. Perhaps it is because the first step is the hardest step. Following a pattern or proven strategy can be helpful in getting that first movement towards an objective. Start here and discover the eight steps that will help you manage your career and gain the job security that you desire.

The head of a major multi-national, multi-business firm had a very simple but effective strategy. Whenever he returned to the US from a major international trip, he began at work thinking it is his first day and outlined areas for change and focus to his team. He had put in all the hard yards regarding strategy rethink during his flight back in his private jet. When I heard about this, it immediately led me to think about how often we refresh our own career strategy!

Here are a few tips for when to develop or refresh your career strategy based on my experience in this area:

Perfect timing! Here I was thinking about the topic of ageism in the workplace, when my wife suggested that we watch “The Intern.” I was not familiar with the story, but I quickly noted the relevance. The movie is about a 70-year-old (Robert De Niro) intern working at a start-up clothing retailer in Brooklyn. Assigned to a role under the friendly, but overly-busy CEO (Anne Hathaway), De Niro played a highly professional intern with 40-years of executive experience. Due to his noticeably calm and thoughtful demeanor compared to many others in the business, Anne Hathaway’s character eventually decides to reassign her intern because he is too “observant.”

As an executive, retained recruiter, I commonly get calls and LinkedIn messages from people on the job market asking if I have a job for which they could be considered. For the few I’m able to give time to speak with, I ask “What do you want to do next?” and “What industry sector and function is the best fit for you?” The responses are often purposefully vague in an effort to keep options open. Since candidates don’t know what I am working on, they understandably do not want to be eliminated unknowingly. Without a clear target neither of us will hit the bullseye. Keeping your options open can mean no options at all.

I hear it all the time. “Nobody is calling me for interviews because of my age”.

Ageism is alive and kicking at all hiring levels, even at the senior-executive level. Many senior executives go from feeling that they’ve finally reached the pinnacle of achievement and experience in their career to seemingly overnight being concerned about being “too old”.  In fact, senior executives are often caught in the worst Catch-22 of all: their calm maturity, experience, and 360-degree view of operations gained through decades of overcoming business challenges are precisely where their unique value resides.

BlueSteps.com, the executive career management service by the Association of Executive Search and Leadership Consultants (AESC) announces MyGoals. The new feature available to the more than 100,000 BlueSteps members worldwide allows executives to set career goals and track their progress toward achieving those goals. A series of new career management steps are displayed to BlueSteps members each time they log into their BlueSteps account.

For ambitious executives, the world has never offered more or better opportunities to build exceptional careers. But those opportunities won’t just fall from the sky. The best careers are built by finding not just a good opportunity, but by seeking out the ideal position - and taking the right steps to capture it. The best careers result from the best career planning. 

There is no one magic formula for career planning. But all effective plans are rooted in a few critical component elements. Call it my personal Six-Step Solution.

Step One:  Know what you want.