Posts Tagged ‘mentorship’

How can you increase your chances for promotion? How smart leaders steer their career.

Posted in Blog on September 26th, 2017 by Admin Jones – Be the first to comment

You are successful in your own right.  You’ve mastered the key skills for your position.  But there are times where you find certain situations challenging.  Or maybe you want to prepare for the next step in your career and chart the course to get there.  It’s hard to imagine every leader has everything it takes to get ahead.  Well they don’t!  They rely on other successful leaders who have the knowledge and expertise that complements their style.  What if you could get promoted quicker by leveraging the insight of others, in the areas you struggle?  Enter the concept of a board of directors.You are successful in your own right.  You’ve mastered the key skills for your position.  But there are times where you find certain situations challenging.  Or maybe you want to prepare for the next step in your career and chart the course to get there.  It’s hard to imagine every leader has everything it takes to get ahead.  Well they don’t!  They rely on other successful leaders who have the knowledge and expertise that complements their style.  What if you could get promoted quicker by leveraging the insight of others, in the areas you struggle?  Enter the concept of a board of directors.

A board of directors is a recognized group of people who jointly oversee the activities of an organization, including, but not limited to, setting broad goals, support of executives in their duties and promoting the success of the company for the benefit of its members.

Just like a board of directors who provides expertise and guidance to the CEO for an organization, leaders need their own board of directors to help steer their careers.  This really isn’t a novel idea, it’s table stakes for how smart leaders get ahead.  Many people have a mentor.   However, I recommend, to my clients, they tap into several mentors.  Why?  Because these mentors act as trusted advisors who provide different perspectives and serve as a sounding board when and where needed.  While you aren’t going to hold formal board meetings, you will tap into the expertise of these leaders, on an individual basis.

There’s a lot of positive research on the importance of mentorship.  In one study, employees who received mentoring were promoted five-times more often than people who didn’t have mentors.  Imagine tapping into your trusted advisors, in various specialties, to help you reach your career goals and get ahead.

But how easy is it to secure a mentor, let alone multiple mentors?  While it’s not that hard, I’ve observed leaders tend to shy away from pursuing a mentor.  They don’t want to waste someone’s time or they simply assume the individual is too busy.  However, in my experience, most managers and executives are honored to be a mentor or to serve on your board.  They also find it fulfilling and look at this as an opportunity to pay it forward, i.e. help someone earlier in their career be successful.  By taking the following steps, you are that much closer to growing as a leader and steering your career:

1. Determine the key skills you want to optimize.  This is a great time for introspection and self-reflection.  What are the areas you struggle?  Review feedback you’ve gotten and pinpoint the areas you need to work on.  Or you may want to proactively get feedback to determine the key skills you should focus on.  Maybe you are thinking about how to take the next step in your career.  To accomplish this, you will need to determine the needed skills for you to develop.

2. Identify your board members.  In choosing your board of directors, you want individuals who have skills and talents, in the areas you’ve identified that would be beneficial for you to improve.  Perhaps you are working on being a concise communicator.  Who can you think of who does this to a high degree of expertise?   Or maybe you are working on delegation and managing the numerous demands on your time.  Who have you noticed does this well?

Choose between three to five people for your board of directors.  The actual number is completely up to you given the areas you need assistance.  Keep in mind this requires a time commitment, not just from these individuals, but from you as well.  Be realistic regarding your time and availability before securing your board members.  You’ll want to tap someone in your network, whether internal to your company or external, who can help.  If you don’t know someone, reach out to those who are already in your network for assistance in identifying these individuals.

3. Formalize the arrangement.  Ask each individual, you’ve identified, to be on your board.  Note, this is where the relationship differs from a true board of directors.  The relationship is similar to that of a mentor except you have multiple mentors that you will meet with, on an individual basis.  Let them know why you chose them and the areas where you need their insights.  As stated earlier, they will likely be honored to be selected and thrilled to help you grow as a leader.  Additionally, they will appreciate your proactive approach and commitment to leadership growth.  They will almost certainly have questions on what is entailed to be on your board so the next three steps are critical.

4. Establish the “bylaws” for your board member.  This step helps define the criteria for being on your board and clarifies yours and their expectations.  How frequently will you meet?  Will this be face-to-face or over the phone?  What is the format for your meeting?  How formal or informal will these meetings be?  Will you meet for coffee, lunch or in a conference room or office?  What is the duration for the meeting?  What about ad hoc conversations or calls when a challenging situation crops up?  How will you handle these situations?  I recommend quarterly meetings or calls.  I prefer face-to-face, where practical, for 60 minutes.  This provides an opportunity to touch base and keep your board member informed of your progress.  Remember you will have multiple board members so this ensures you are engaging with each of them on a regular basis.

5. Craft the agenda.  Topics should include; projects you are working on, accomplishments you have achieved since the last meeting and areas you need insight or assistance. An agenda is critical.  This ensures you are using yours and their time wisely and focused on the things that will have the greatest payoff.  Without even a lose agenda, you will have good conversations but they may not be productive given what you want to accomplish through this relationship.

6. Define your goals.  It’s important to set some goals, up front, on what you want to achieve through this relationship.  Are you trying to close a specific gap, get promoted, or something else entirely?  A discussion of what success looks like and the key measures to get there is critical to a thriving relationship.  This ensures you meet your stated goals and it’s a good time investment for you and your mentor.

Take the important first step and establish your board of directors today.  This is how smart leaders close skill gaps, continue to grow and develop and get ahead.

Sage Alliance, a Leadership Performance Company, provides coaching, teambuilding and assessments, workshops and speaking on topics including; leadership development, empowering teams, communications, lasting impressions, personal branding and building a coaching culture for executives and high-potentials – for both team and individual leaders.

Contact us today to discover how your organization can get the most through improved productivity, efficiency and direct impact to your bottom line, while leaders gain powerful insight, crystallize opportunities for growth and fine tune their strengths, enabling them to make the greatest impact. You can contact Shelley Hammell directly at shammell@thesagealliance.com.

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