Navigating your career into the C-suite requires intentionality and dedication. You’ll learn a lot about yourself as you master how to overcome barriers and seek out opportunities. Ultimately, if you stay focused and make the right moves, you’ll find that you’re prepared when opportunity knocks.
Here are a few tried and true tips for making that journey to the top:
- Do the work, build the skill sets – I know this from experience: If you want to be an effective leader later on, you must develop expertise in your field today and continually build on that experience. Hands-on employees will better understand their team’s needs and concerns as they find themselves in top positions down the road.
- Know your strengths, AND your weaknesses – Ultimately, a leader should want to build on existing strengths while acknowledging and addressing weaknesses. It’s okay if you’re not a star at everything. Few—if any—people are. One of the tremendous benefits of the C-suite is that you’ll have the opportunity to build a brilliant, complementary team around you that can fill in gaps where you could use some help.
- Master the business side – Don’t focus solely on the mission and fail to master the business/finance side of your organization. Dive in on the finances, revenue growth and strategic leveraging opportunities from the onset. Educate yourself early on what makes the numbers work for your business and the sky will be the limit once you’re in the C-suite.
- Build your network and find a mentor – No matter your industry, a timeless key to success is making genuine connections with other professionals. You never know who may end up helping you along the way—or, even better, who you may help move ahead. Always make sure you’re building your professional community, and keep an eye out for a potential mentor who has been down your path before and is willing to help guide you toward your dream leadership role.
- Learn from mistakes – Challenges will occur on your way to the C-suite. That’s okay. Even after you’ve made it, you’re going to continue to experience learning moments. In fact, once you’re in that leadership role, it will be more important than ever to commit to your own personal growth and development. Keep learning and growing.
- Take calculated risks – If you approach your career from a place of fear, it will only hold you back. A discerning risk-taker can advance him- or herself and an organization in ways a timid one cannot. However, be sure to keep the right people around you to carefully analyze risks and help you take the right chances at the right times.
- Put your best foot forward – If you commit to excellence in your work and stay positive and optimistic about your future, then you’ll find you have more opportunities than you might have ever imagined.
- Be proactive – That dream job of yours is simply not going to fall into your lap. You need to scope out opportunities for advancement and be willing to make that move. Make sure you are always striving for excellence, regularly making that ask, and shining bright like a diamond.
The road to the C-suite will be paved with potential for growth. If you work hard, keep an eye out for opportunities, and stay positive and proactive, there’s no telling how far you’ll go.