Moving On, Moving Up – Soft Skills For The Leadership Climb.

Soft Skills for the Leadership Climb

Do you feel stuck on the career ladder? Do you feel you are going nowhere fast?

You are ambitious. You want your career to move on and up. You want fulfilment and challenge in your work. You want your existing skills acknowledged and rewarded. You also want to enhance and expand them by being given new opportunities and promotions. Yet it  is not happening.

You are not alone because as many have realised the traditional career ladder no longer exists. There’s no longer fixed rungs you can step up one by one to reach the top. Organisations are much flatter also and it can be years before you can move to the next rung – if there is one. There isn’t advancement by seniority anymore either. Neither is there necessarily advancement because of your excellent technical skills.

So what do you do? Do you go back to university and get some more qualifications? How do you stay engaged, empowered, productive and grow your career in such an environment?

Focusing on your development of soft skills for the leadership climb will make all the difference. Learning how to develop and enhance them in this challenging new environment will give you the professional edge. They will help you move on and up.

Create Your Own Opportunities – Be The Leader You Aspire To Be

Stand Out From The Crowd.

  •  Believe in yourself because if you don’t you can’t expect anyone else to. Act then in a believable way.
  •  Discover your strengths and talents and learn how to use them to achieve what you want to achieve.   Discover also what challenges you -your weaknesses. Take ownership of them and decide what you will do   about them.
  •  Create a plan for your career development because if you don’t you’ll find yourself fitting into someone else’s plan that is unlikely to take you where you want to go.
  •  Be prepared to be flexible with your plan, however, because you are working in changing times which may require you to move in another direction. For example, you may need to move sideways for a while in order to go up later, or you may be presented with  unexpected opportunities too good to ignore.
  •  Get yourself a mentor who has been where you want to go and work with that mentor to fine tune your plan. Your mentor is someone who walks beside you and guides you through every new experience you face on the way so you don’t have to re-invent the wheel at every turn. As well, your mentor is also someone who can open up opportunities for you and introduce you to people who can support your career, people you otherwise would not have access to.
  • Align your goals with those of your organisation. Don’t just know your job, but know and be in tune with the pulse of your organisation and your professional or industry sector as well. Understand the trends and be flexible enough to embrace them and change with them. All organisations need people with different skills sets at different stages of their development.
  • Learn to manage up. That means learn to manage those above you, whether it is your direct manager, your CEO, the departmental head, or a member of the Board. They are the people who have considerable power to influence your career for better or worse.
  • Understand your manager’s style and personality and respond with a similar style and personal approach.
  • Understand your manager’s goals and aspirations and make an obvious and committed effort to work  WITH him/her to achieve those. Don’t just act as if you are working FOR him/her.
  • If you have to bring problems to your manager, bring a possible solution with you also. This is about being pro-active rather than reactive and all managers like proactive team members. Offer to take the initiative to act on the resolution either by yourself or in collaboration with the manager or the team.
  • Ask for and be open to feedback. In fact take control of the feedback process. Ask the confronting questions about your performance that will give you the honest answers to allow you to take your career forward. Many managers fear to initiate that honest feedback discussion for their good people because they fear your reaction.
  • Take every opportunity to let your manager see of what you are capabl. Take initiative; be enthusiastic; be positive; be energised. Ask for stretch projects and opportunities even if you are not paid for them. Make sure your manager knows what you are doing and achieving.
  • Develop your profile, reputation and platform in your area of expertise so you can become a fitting “ambassador” for the organisation. People who don’t fit the image of the organisation won’t be placed in positions to lead it. You won’t be given opportunities to develop and grow in that organisation.
  • Learn to be an assertive not aggressive professional, an authoritative not authoritarian one. Many get these confused, not knowing the difference. Leadership demands assertiveness and the decisiveness that goes with it. It also needs someone with an authoritative presence who inspires respect and evokes commitment.
  • Develop a resilient attitude that sees you able to bounce back from adversity.This is essential in these changing times where we can no longer be certain anything will go the way we want or expect it to.
  • Be emotionally intelligent in the way you handle your own emotions. Be able to identify and name them; know what triggers them and recognise their impact on others. Be able to also recognise others emotions and be able to be non-reactive to their reactivity. If you have highly developed emotional intelligence like this you will be highly sought after for leadership.
  • Manage your energy as well as your time. This is about being committed to health and well-being, and work life balance.
  • Make the building of significant connections and relationships a priority both internally within your organisation and externally outside it. These are people who have the power and influence to help you reach the career goals you aspire to. Remember the quality of your relationships with your network determines your net-worth.
  • Learn how to be strategic in your work because this adds another dimension to your skill set. Learn to identify problems, analyse them in a constructive way, articulate them to others clearly and precisely, as well as how to develop a strategy for solving them, selling that to your team and leading them in the implementation of it. From a positive perspective can you do something similar with emerging trends? Be able to read them, analyse them, articulate clearly and precisely their likely impact on the organisation and its work, develop a strategic approach to them and lead a response team in acting on them.

If any of this does not resonate with you, then maybe that you need to reassess whether you are working in the right organisation with the right manager.



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