Leadership Track Best Practices

Are you a go-getter? Have you ever pondered how to get on a leadership track or higher-level responsibilities? If so, you're in luck because our subject matter experts left no stone unturned during our part four series webinar, Orientation, and Performance Best Practices. Following, we have included valuable resources and insight on a tiered career plan for success, a SWOT analysis, actions to manage your career proactively, and more.

  1. Tiered Career Plan for Success

A tiered plan traditionally starts with identifying where you want to be in a given year regarding a job title, salary, etc. Using your end goal, say at five years, make a roadmap moving backward for each year you need to get there. For example, if you want to be a manager in five years, you know a master's degree is required and must happen by year five. As such, your roadmap can include researching in year one, enrollment and attendance by year two, and so on. Use this Career Planning Guide to get you started.

  1. Mentorships and Informal Career Interviews

So you plan on being in a lead role in three years and a manager in five. A vital part of pursuing a leadership track is finding mentors in the position you eventually want to be. You can look internally or externally at communities to find formal and informal mentorships. Mentorships aside, you can always incorporate informal career interviews with most any individual currently or formally in the given function. Questions to ask can include:

  • What skills do you have?
  • What were the most valuable skills needed to get there?
  • How did you achieve your role?

Many individuals miss the benefits of informal career interviews because they feel embarrassed or afraid. Don't fret about asking; most people are willing to help, and most managers have their very own five or ten-year plan, which may give you added insight. It only takes 10 to 15 minutes to address core questions and can occur while having a simple conversation.

Learn more about finding a mentor.

  1. SWOT Analysis

Commonly known in business, a SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) is something you can do for your career. Your strengths and weakness are generally internal; think of this as a self-reflection activity. You don't have to share them with everyone, but you should reflect and identify them, then plan on converting your weakness to strengths. Opportunities and threats are usually external. I'm not currently employed, but what are the opportunities in my industry? Are there current opportunities with my current employer, and if so, what are the threats that may keep me from advancing?

Let's consider IT people and changing technology. If the technology changes and you don't have the skills for it, identify how to match your strengths to the opportunities and convert your weaknesses to strengths. Use your tiered plan for success to start the groundwork. Identify the relevant and available courses. It doesn't always mean going back to school. You can look at Udemy and Pluralsight or even instructor-led training. Regardless of which training you take, get the skills you need by implementing them into your plan.

Even if you just started a new position, do a SWOT analysis within a few weeks of starting. Think about and identify potential barriers to your being successful in your new role. If you don't have experience with a tool you're working with, be transparent with whomever you're working with. Ask about available training. There are many free and discounted training platforms.

  1. Proactively Manage Your Career

If you wait until you have the title, you've waited far too long to try to be a leader. So, take an active role in managing your career instead of passively waiting for it to come to you. It's not going to happen overnight! Most folks are doing responsibilities in that title well before they have the title itself. Below are action items to take in your new position.

  • Take the opportunity to see how you can help, support, and provide value. The reason you've been hired is that there's some gap that needs to be filled.
  • Don't assume that you're doing enough and that it will set you up for success down the road.
  • Your measures for success may not line up with your supervisor, manager, or others. Don't let them make their perceptions of you. What are their measures of success?
  • Even if you're early, mid, or late in your career, make sure that you're doing your core competencies and knocking them out of the ballpark.
  • Once you've nailed down core competencies, start to look for areas where you can add value beyond what's typically expected.
  • Seek out additional responsibilities that might align with the job title you want.
  • Hard work is part of the formula but demonstrates your value and accomplishments to get noticed by the right people.
  • Don't take on too much work, simply to impress others, or you'll spread yourself too thin. The negative results will be at the expense of your core responsibilities and decrease others' confidence in you and eventually your own.

Continue to gain more expertise and experience to increase the value you can provide, and then your influence will start to expand. Within due time, more people will rely on you when they need direction, help, or advice, which is indicative of being a leader.

  1. Promoting and Branding Yourself

Over time, an increased amount of leadership opportunities will help grow your expertise and experience, which will naturally progress your career path. However, it's not going to happen without branding the proof in the pudding, which takes us to the following action items:

  • Brand yourself with your work and expertise.
  • Use the right opportunities to highlight your brand awareness to the right audience.
  • Do it tactfully and on the right platforms.
  • Actively share your successes individually or as a team, highlighting the fruit of your labor, i.e., the results of your efforts.

If you're not managing your successes correctly or calling attention to them, the right individuals won't see them. And if they fall short of attention, it'll diminish their benefit, ultimately leaving you with a weakened or haltered career path. Now tell me, where do you want to be in five years, and what are you doing to get there?

Additional Resources:

Building Trust and Confidence article

Click here if you're interested in viewing series part-4, with subject matter experts and panelists: Jeff Baird, Suzanne Ricci, and George Stocker.

View the entire webinar and workshop series by selecting, New Job, Now what?