Whether you are a working CEO secure in your tenure (for now), an entrepreneurial CEO who founded and successfully sold off his company—and is searching for the next opportunity, or a very senior executive who is preparing to step up to the C-Suite or boardroom, there is a high-results framework to boost and sustain your career that is almost always overlooked. This framework can and should be applied in a continuous cycle—not just when you feel overlooked, underutilized or undercompensated. You know the feeling: the future is somewhat murky and you want a reliable blueprint in place so you can explore and enter markets, engage with peers to develop and strengthen relationships and execute a plan to reach defined goals. But you lack a framework and blueprint. And you don’t work on your career until you absolutely have to—when there is a higher degree of uncertainty, disruption and coherence in the decision process.
Let me emphasize that last word: process. Process is the key to improve performance, achieve career satisfaction and secure advantageous position. Time spent on your career should be part of a continuous cycle and not a “sometimes” effort that you squeeze into an overloaded schedule. It must be orderly, energizing, creative and intelligent—not a mirror image of what the vast majority of executives do when they work at their careers. That amounts to a series of tactics that buy into stale ideas that yield few if any successes.
Over the next week or two, I’m going to describe the framework and process that should be the backbone of every CEO’s career plan. And I’ll explain the activities you should use that will become easy-to-adopt solutions that respect executives’ calendars.
Your takeaway will be 7 breakthrough career ideas that you can “take to the bank.” I use these ideas in my executive coaching practice, so each idea should resonate and be easy to apply. In other words, I’ve partnered with clients who have used these ideas to their success. Here goes … but first, the framework.
Plan: map out your goals and include short- and long-range priorities. Do not use a file or keyboard at this point; instead, put pen to paper. Make it a grid, graph or chart of your choosing, and ensure that it’s both comfortable to use, visually appealing and accessible. I want you to be able to see it multiple times a day. This is low-tech, but it works.
Lead: don’t expect that you can outsource the entire plan to others. Yes, get help. You can hire an executive coach and/or a business writer to develop strategies and tactics; mentor you and hold you accountable; brand you and create your message; expand your knowledge. But leading means that you expect results will come from your active participation and the agenda that you understand. Lack of time can derail any plan, and if you think that you can delegate and depend on others for success, then you have lost control and will extend the timeline—probably with less than desirable results. Be the Chief Executive of your plan and lead.
Acquire: allocate the appropriate resources to help you move the needle. You don’t need to justify anything here. This is Career Management 801 and a fundamental piece of your ongoing managerial and leadership development. Development of a personal brand, communications set, concentric networks and internal/external relationships also serves to strengthen company opportunity in sales, marketing and revenues. Don’t think of the framework as something closely held and only in support of your career success. Realistic understanding of associated costs helps to streamline and accelerate your results. DIY doesn’t connect in a straight line to successful, accomplished CEOs.
Execute: you know the Nike slogan “Just Do It!” Yes, of course you are required to execute a plan to get a result, but this is one of those easier-said-than-done challenges. You don’t want to get trapped into thinking and saying repeatedly that you should have completed a task and then feel guilty for not having done it. It will become an endless cycle of false negatives impacting real progress. What can you do to execute the larger plan into smaller increments? The answer is to make yourself accountable to someone else and try new things—even if you think that you aren’t very good at them, e.g., social media; speaking. Plans are tangible yet change, because the secret is that the act of planning is a process and therefore continuous. In other words, the behaviors of planning, leading, acquiring and executing should always be on your schedule when it comes to career management.
That’s the framework. It holds no matter what fills your executive responsibilities, personal obligations and day-to-day tasks on the calendar. Time and effort set aside to work at your career is critical to being a good leader. Structure and process go a long way towards achieving goals.
Next, I’ll show you the components of the process that will yield a return on investment of time and effort. The takeaway will be 7 breakthrough career ideas that you can start to incorporate immediately.
Every CEO should make this a habit.