Climbing the management ladder to success is not something to be left to chance. Unfortunately, there is no magic formula. In fact, no two management consultants would agree completely on any certain recipe for reaching the top job. They would agree, however, that, if you are ambitious to reach the top, then the best person to help you get there is yourself. So here are a few guidelines to help you on your way…
1. Be prepared.
There are no better candidates for advancement than those who, while handling their own jobs in exemplary fashion, have also prepared themselves for the job above theirs. Keep close to the people whose job you want, for they often have much to say about their successors.
2. Attend seminars and courses regularly.
The sharpening of management skills through continuing education is essential for effective managers. Additionally, exposure to other managers at seminars and conferences is stimulating.
3. Build your own management library.
Exposure to the literature of management is vital to one who would manage. Management is a profession that can be taught, read about, and learned. Build up a personal management library – and use it.
4. Subscribe to at least one top management journal.
A good management journal is the primary source of new ideas and information and is an essential tool for managers who need to be up to date with the latest in the field.
5. Join at least one professional association.
Such associations provide the opportunity to ‘get a fix’ on the job; to mix with others facing similar problems and seeking similar answers; to break the daily routine; to hear professionals present topics of managerial interest.
6. Be seen.
Become visible and known by name – through networking, attending conferences and seminars, writing for professional journals and newsletters, joining committees and taskforces, being active in professional associations, and attending company social get-togethers.
7. Develop a questioning mind.
A questioning mind is alert to change, is constantly in search of facts, relates facts to situations and projects them into future possibilities, views interruptions as opportunities, and seeks and explores relationships among facts, situations, and people.
8. Lead from the front.
Support the efforts of your subordinates. By helping their careers, you ensure strong loyalty. Build a strong team around you to complement your skills, and undertake team tasks crucial to your organisation’s success. Publicise the results.
9. Dedicate yourself to the organisation.
Show your interest and dedication to the organisation. Take on new assignments. Tackle existing tasks in different ways. Talk shop with your colleagues.
10. Build a reputation as a forward-looking manager.
Broad-mindedness, appreciation of innovation, creativity – all have a place in the portfolio of a modern manager. Experiment with applying new approaches to executive problems and routine tasks.
11. Be aware of the company culture.
If you want to climb the company ladder, be aware of the company culture. If others wear white shirts and ties, don’t wear turtlenecks; if others work twelve-hour days, don’t arrive at 9.00 and leave at 4.30; if others work as a team, don’t hog the spotlight. On the other hand, if you want to be nonconformist, start by outperforming the others.
12. See yourself as a winner.
Understand the politics of your organisation and the values of each level within it and match your achievements to them. Be ready to make firm, sometimes unpopular, decisions. Be loyal, but don’t jeopardise your career. Use talented people to cover your weaknesses. Be realistic about your strengths, weaknesses, and ambitions.
13. Remember also…
- Review your performance continually. Spend 15 minutes at the end of each week considering your successes and mistakes, and learn from them.
- Be determined to improve. Experience alone will not bring improvement. Welcome constructive criticism.
- Find a nonjudgmental mentor who will help you by providing feedback, suggestions, challenges, and support.
- Ask yourself continually, ‘How can I proactively determine my own destiny?