Today, I’m honored to welcome a new guest contributor to the blog, Ms. Karan Ferrell-Rhodes, founder and CEO of Shockingly Different Leadership (www.shockinglydifferent.com), a leadership development consultancy that provides development programs, best practice resources, and a cross-industry community which transforms “leaders into ultra-achievers” within their organization. Welcome to the blog Karan!
I’ve got to admit that I have one of the coolest professions in the world! As a leadership development strategist, I get to wake up every day and focus on helping super smart professionals get ready for the next step in their careers.
One of the most common frustrations I hear from up-and-coming leaders is that they are dying to use their expertise to make a real difference at work. They just want a chance. But most feel lost and frustrated as to what their senior leaders really want to see from them and how to get more visibility to key people in the company.
Did you know that in most organizations, special secret meetings (called “people reviews”) are held by the company’s top leaders? These are closed-door meetings where your senior executives discuss your job performance and future potential with the company.
It is always fascinating to me when I consult with corporate brass about who in their employee population are their most valuable assets. There is not an executive that I have met yet who is not dying to see awesome work results, new innovative ideas and an employee’s full potential. And ironically, I have yet to meet an employee who wakes up and comes to work with the goal to “fail at all costs.”
So, here’s the million-dollar question. If high achievers like yourself hunger to make a difference at your workplace and your senior leaders hunger to see your best work, why aren’t there a flood of more success stories? Where is the disconnect?
I believe part of the disconnect is due to the lack of transparency from senior leaders to their teams of the criteria for what makes up exceptional leadership and job performance. After over 15 years leading discussions with CXOs to help them identify their company’s most valuable employee talent, there are definitely 5 competencies that most executives look for when determining if you are ready for the next step in your career. Here are the 5 areas you should focus on which will supercharge your readiness for your next great professional opportunity:
- Intellectual Horsepower: Upper management absolutely LOVES thought leaders! However, you don’t differentiate yourself by just being smart. Lots of people are smart. Senior leaders want you to demonstrate intellectual horsepower, which involves raising the bar by using your knowledge, skills, and expertise to spot trends and areas of opportunity for your organization to capitalize upon. Aspiring leaders who are “ready-now” to take on their next challenge are adept at looking at current operations and their industry to discover opportunities that others have passed by, missed, or ignored.
- Intrapreneurship: While it is great to bring new opportunities to the table, aspiring leaders take it to the next level by using their insights to take real action. Intrepreneurship involves taking the lead in building or developing new improvements, products or services. You function as an “entrepreneur” within your company, taking advantage of the company resources to support your initiative. It is crucial that you are able to get comfortable with taking calculated risks and find your inner grit to drive for results by pitching your ideas, planning potential solutions, and recruiting talented colleagues to help you implement your well thought out strategy.
- Stakeholder Savvy: Stakeholder Savvy is one the best predictors of effective leaders but one of the most poorly understood leadership competencies. Stakeholder Savvy is the big brother of interpersonal skills. It is your ability to simultaneously assess social situations, workplace dynamics, and the priorities of various stakeholders. High achievers are able to process all three in order to be able to operate effectively within challenging environments. To develop your Stakeholder Savvy, consciously try to expose yourself to different types of people, social situations, and work to develop your ability to “read” other people’s perspectives, nonverbal clues, and personal agendas.
- Courageous Agility: Rarely does every work day go perfectly for you, right? I’m sure you have stories of when office politics or the dynamics in the workplace were in play and made the devil in you want to come out. Top leaders are masters at courageous agility, which is having the fortitude to stand up for what you believe in and do the right thing, even when the consequences and future is unclear.
- Executive Presence: This competency is the granddaddy of them all. When an individual shows strong executive presence, they are able to make clear and convincing oral or written presentations on their point of view in order to gain or maintain support. Executive presence uses a combination of the previous 4 competences to be able to:
- Articulate the new opportunities they or their team members discovered (intellectual horsepower)
- Gain support for moving forward with new initiatives (intrepreneurship)
- Manage the expectations and morale of multiple stakeholders with competing priorities (stakeholder savvy)
- Keep all parties calm, excited and hopeful both in good times and in bad (courageous agility)
I’ve given you a few inside tips of where to focus your efforts in order to motivate your senior leaders to help you pave a path that will increase your impact at work and ultimately grow your career. These 5 areas are the most common that I’ve seen, no matter your job profession or industry.
What other areas of focus have you seen at your organization that are key to future career advancement and success?
Meet Karan: Karan Ferrell-Rhodes is the Founder & CEO of Shockingly Different Leadership (www.shockinglydifferent.com), a leadership development consultancy that provides development programs, best practice resources, and a cross-industry community which transforms “leaders into ultra-achievers” within their organization. Karan’s areas of expertise include differentiated leadership, career advancement strategies, and leadership branding. She’s also a mom, wife, wine connoisseur, movie-addict and NFL fanatic.