Ep #35: Executive Ahead of Time Part 2: Making an Impact
As an ambitious corporate leader, I know you don’t just want to put in the work. You want to be able to see and measure the results.
And part of your desire to get to the C-Suite is to leave a greater mark on your organization.
You want to be in the room where the higher level decisions are made.
You want to lead and inspire more people.
That’s why I’ve dedicated this episode to providing you with the tools you’ll need to make an even greater impact in your workplace, starting...NOW.
So if you’ve ever wondered why you may be struggling to make a bigger difference at your company…
OR you’d like practical strategies that will help you identify and execute on opportunities…
...then be sure to listen to this episode.
This is part two of a three-part podcast series: Executive Ahead of Time.
In this series, I walk you through proven strategies that will help you develop the executive leadership skills you’ll need to get promoted quickly into the position you want AND get the recognition you already deserve.
I'm offering a free Live webinar series on "4 Steps to Scale Yourself to the C-Suite (No Matter What)" If you want to develop the skills I teach you on my podcast so that you can finally get the recognition you deserve, sign up at stacymayer.com/csuite and learn how. There are limited spots, so don't hesitate to sign up.
What You'll Learn:
- How to determine the impact that you’re already having in your organization
- Exactly why having greater impact at your organization will make you fall in love with your job
- How to search for and find opportunities to have a bigger impact
- Three things you can start doing today to make a bigger difference in your organization
- AND the signs that your quest to have a bigger impact is actually working
Listen to the Full Episode:
Featured on the Show:
- Ep #34: Executive Ahead of Time Part 1:Gaining Influence
- Better Pay and Benefits Loom Large in Job Satisfaction
- The Right Culture: Not Just About Employee Satisfaction
- Chuck Robbins: 10 Things You Didn’t Know about Cisco’s CEO
- Register for my free LIVE webinar "Scaling Yourself to the C-Suite (no matter what)" at stacymayer.com/csuite
Hello, everyone! Welcome to another episode of Maximize Your Career with Stacy Mayer. So excited to be here with you again this week.
I am absolutely thrilled with the feedback I've been receiving about this podcast series so far called Executive Ahead of Time.
So if you haven't had a chance to listen to the first episode, don't worry. You can go back and listen to that after you've listened to today's podcast. But listen to episode 34. In this podcast series, I'm going through all of the different ways that you can become the Executive Ahead of Time, essentially shortcutting your way to the top, not in a bad way, not in a way that cuts corners, but in a way that actually gets you promoted in a timely fashion to the position and getting the recognition that you already deserve.
In each of these series, I'm going to be breaking down what you really want to be doing in order to be seen as the Executive Ahead of Time.
In episode number 34, I talked about influence, how influence isn't something that just happens to you once you get promoted, but it's something that you actually go out and actively get.
People who have influence at your organization know and identified themselves as influencers. They surround themselves with people that they can, in fact, influence. And that is something that you can start doing today.
So after you get done listening to this episode, go back, listen to episode number 34. And then next week, I'm going to be talking to you about energy.
We all want to have the energy to do the best job. We don't want to get burned out. And many corporate managers that I speak with actually don't go for senior executive positions simply because they are worried about their stress management. They're already feeling overworked, so they can't figure out a way to get themselves promoted without doing even more work.
My goal is to show you how you can get promoted into senior executive positions. And one way to be successful once you actually get there, and also to maintain your energy as well. So we'll be going out into that a little bit more next week.
But today's episode is all about IMPACT. We want to see the fruits of our labor. We want to actually see the impact that our work is making on the organization.
And many of you probably feel like that's a reason to get promoted. Because, if you get promoted into a senior executive leadership position, you will have more impact on the company's bottom line. For two reasons.
One is that you'll be in the senior executive leadership meetings. You'll be in more meetings with the CEO, you'll be having more boardroom conversations. You'll actually be in the room where it happens (from Hamilton) and you'll actually be involved in these higher level decisions.
Another reason why it feels like if once I get promoted into a senior executive position, then I'll have more impact is because you're actually leading more people. So if you're in these executive positions, you're a manager of managers. Right? And then those people are managing other managers, or they're managing individual contributors, whatever that is. But, many times you can get upwards to being in charge of 200, 300, 500 people at your organization that you were, in fact, leading the charge up.
Now, if that feels daunting to you, don't worry. I'm going to give you all the tools to help you be successful once you actually get to that position. But if it feels exciting to you, I want you to start thinking about what I'm going to teach you today, and really applying these tools so that you can start making the impact that you want to be making at your organization right now.
So I talked about how it feels like it's something that happens next. Like once you get promoted, then I'll have a bigger impact. But I want you to think about this a little bit differently.
Let's start thinking about: what is the impact that I could be making at my organization right now?
Now, many of you think about this very literally. You're thinking about: 'OK. I'm working on this project and I want to do a good job on this project. And then that's going to have a bigger impact on the organization.'
But I'm talking about elevating that one step up.
So getting yourself out of the day to day operations of what you're working on. Yes, continue to do a great job. Continue to be performing well. Continue to have excellent results.
But I want you to start thinking about: how is what you're working on impacting the larger organization? And if it's not clear, then I'm going to give you the skills to go out and figure out how what you're doing actually impacts the greater organization.
Now, besides just seeing how your work matters on the higher organizational level, the other reason that you want to really have impact at your organization right now is because it leads to higher job satisfaction.
Organization called BambooHR did a survey and they discovered that one third of workers said they would rather have an executive send a company wide email praising their accomplishments than receive a 500 dollar bonus that went unpublicised.
It feels good to know that your hard work is actually having an impact on the organization. It feels good to have that impact recognized. It's also good for the organization (for you) to have a larger impact on the company's bottom line.
A survey conducted by Gallup, Gallup is the organization that created Strengths Finder, they reported that highly engaged business units achieve a 10 percent increase in customer ratings and a 20 percent increase in sales. Engaged employees are more present. They're more productive. And when taken together, the behaviors of a highly engaged business unit result in 21 percent greater profitability for the organization.
So if you are more engaged, if you are more productive, then your organization has the chance of having a 20 percent increase in their profitability.
These are all reasons why it's so important to start making that impact at your organization today. And the other reason why it's a really fantastic idea to start making that impact right away is because it increases your chance of getting a promotion in the future.
I'm going to share with you a little case study here. So Chuck Robbins is actually currently the CEO of Cisco, and he was driving $47B dollars in revenue for Cisco as a Senior Vice President before being leapfrogged into a CEO position.
So when he received the CEO title, I think it's been about five years ago now, people were shocked. They were surprised. Because most of us think that it's lateral moves, right? Like the next best position. We don't really think that we could skip from a Senior Vice President to the CEO of an organization. And so it was, yes, in fact, surprising. But then, once they realized his accomplishments up until that point, everybody got on board. Everybody rallied around him and completely understood why he was chosen to be CEO of the organization.
Let me give you an idea of something that he accomplished as an SVP. So this is actually from Money Inc magazine.
"Given his title, it should come as no surprise to learn that Robbins contributed to Cisco's overall strategies during his time as Senior Vice President."
So once he became CEO, it was like: 'Well, what did this person do along the way?'
"He was responsible for not just coming up with strategies such as expanding into security and collaboration, but also implementing his strategies as shown by his critical involvement in the acquisitions of Sourcefire and Muraki. As a result, it can be said that Robbins had an enormous role in building up Cisco's partnership program, which is worth more than $40B on an annual basis. He did all of this as a Senior Vice President.
He went out and created that impact. He could have not done that, but he was thinking ahead. He had his forward vision in mind and he wanted to make sure that the work that he was doing had a greater impact on the organization today. Not after he was CEO, but as whatever role he was in at the time.
Now, what are some of the reasons that you might not be making the impact that you want to be making at your organization today?
I want you to realize that it is within your control. And the reason that you're not making an impact that you want to be making is not because of your organization and what's happening. It's actually because of some of the things, some of the things, that you might be doing right now.
So one of the thoughts that you might be having is that it's someone else's job. You might be thinking: 'Well, I'm just the Senior Vice President. I'm not supposed to be responsible for acquisitions. That's not part of my job.' So you're thinking like the role you have versus the role that you want to have.
What I want to start doing is shifting that thought process and really looking for opportunities. And I'm going to give you three ways that you can start to look for those opportunities that you can make an impact. But for now, I just want you to note if you are thinking, on a regular basis, that it's someone else's job.
I actually have a client who, when the coronavirus hit, I asked her: 'What is your boss working on right now, and what are some of the things that you would like to be working on more of?'.
And she had a lot of interest in working on one of the projects that her boss was working on, but she just kept herself out of it because she was like: ''That's my boss's job and I don't want to step on her toes. And she's obviously doing a fine job at it. So I'm not going to bring it up.'.
And I actually encouraged her to have regular conversations with her boss, not to take that project away from her, but to just further understand what her boss was actually doing, what her boss was working on. And then, she figured out how she could plug herself into that.
So not only was she able to make a bigger impact on what actually mattered to the organization back in March and April when the coronavirus first came, but also she enjoyed it more because it was actually more interesting work than what she was doing as part of her regular job. So that's where that job satisfaction comes in as well.
The other reason why you might not be making the impact that you want to be making at your organization right now is because you just don't know what's important.
Many of you don't have conversations with your boss or the leadership team about what their obstacles are. What are their challenges? What are they actually working on right now? So I want to encourage you to go out and have those regular conversations so that you really understand what is actually important, what are the goals, what is the vision for the corporation and not just your team.
And the third reason why you might not be making the impact that you really want to be making right now is that you're too busy focusing on something else. You're too busy doing your work.
So we have this tunnel vision, looking at what we're trying to get done, and it's all that we're focusing on. And as a senior executive leader, you have to be able to pull yourself out of that. That is part of your job description.
So I recommend, if you're at the senior manager or director level, start practicing that now. Understand how what you're doing actually ties in to the greater organization.
So, if you find yourself wanting to make a bigger impact at your organization, this is the place to start. Just ask yourself: 'Am I thinking that it's someone else's job? Am I unsure what's actually important to the organization? And, am I so busy focusing on exactly what I'm doing? Do I have that tunnel vision and I can't see the bigger picture?
So that's the first thing that you're going to do when you start to think: 'How can I make a bigger impact today?' How can I become the Executive Ahead of Time and really make that impact in my organization right now.
Now, here's what you're actually going to do. These are the three things to start making that impact right away.
So I already spoke to this one. Know what is actually going on at your organization. Ask to join meetings. Ask your boss. Schedule a conversation with a senior executive. You're not going over anyone's head. You're just curious. You're just listening. You're just asking questions. You're understanding their obstacles. You want to know more.
Do your research online. Watch videos. If there's public press releases, understand what is actually happening at the organizational level and really start to think about how does what I'm doing impact that greater initiative?
The next thing that I want you to start doing is being super solution-focused. I had a client that was actually a vice president and she was known as the complainer. You may have found this happen to you. It's a totally normal thing. When we bring up problems without solutions, we come off as complaining.
So you want to make sure that as you're noticing some of the challenges at the greater organizational level, or as you're seeing sort of these bigger gaps that are affecting the organization, that you are very solution-focused and not just complaining when you bring up these challenges.
And if you say something like: 'Well, I'm not really sure how to solve this problem', that's great. That's fine. You don't have to have all the answers. But you do want to frame it in terms of: why is it important to solve for this problem? And what role would you like to actually play in solving that problem? So making sure that you're always thinking about solutions and not just the challenges.
And speaking of challenges, if you want to start making an impact at your organization today, I want you to start thinking about obstacles. You need to anticipate obstacles. That is what senior executives do best. They anticipate obstacles.
I have a client who's a Vice President and you have heard me talked about her many, many times. But she anticipated some of the challenges that her team would face from a sales perspective back in February when the coronavirus outbreak was happening in China. So before it even moved to the U.S., she was anticipating some of the obstacles that her team might face.
She had no idea was what was about to happen. This was about a good, solid 30 days before the entire country shut down. But before that, she was already starting to bring up at a higher organizational level, some of the obstacles that could potentially happen.
So really thinking about that, what are some obstacles that your team is facing? What about the higher organizational level? What are some things and some ideas that you can bring up, and also tying that into some possible solutions. So that's what you're going to start doing.
You're going to start making a bigger impact and your organization today by doing these three things. You're going to know what's going on in the organization. You're going to actually put yourself in the middle of conversations. You're going to ask better questions to your boss. You're going to schedule more meetings with executives, people that you don't know that well. Really understanding what the greater needs of the organization are. You are going to offer solutions to problems, and not just point out challenges and problems. And you're also going to understand and anticipate obstacles. Each of these things are also job qualities of a senior executive leader. And you're just going to start doing it now.
Now, here's a bonus suggestion before I close out here. I really want you to try and understand this. So you're going to be thinking: 'OK, thanks, Stacy. I got this. I'm going to go gather information. Great. Easy to do. Schedule meetings. I understand some challenges.'
Then when it comes to actually presenting solutions and obstacles, you're going to tell yourself a story. And the story looks a little bit like this. It looks a little bit like: 'I don't know. I don't know Stacy. I actually don't have solutions. I actually don't know what to say. I actually don't know what the obstacles might be.'
So that is inevitably the next phase that happens for people when they start to do this work. And here is the kicker. All you have to do to figure it out is tell yourself: you do know. Ask yourself the question: what is it that I do actually know? And inevitably, where this is going to take you is into more of a strategic or visionary idea.
Let me give you an example. So my client, who is the vice president. anticipating obstacles once she found out about the coronavirus happening in China and she knew what was happening and she wanted to create a plan for her team.
She didn't know the logistics. She didn't know that within one month's time, universities were actually going to be shut down. There is no way that she could have truly anticipated the magnitude of what was about to happen in the country. But what she did know is two things:
She works in international travel. She did know that if there is an outbreak in China and people can't travel to China, then that is going to affect her organization. She did know as a sales leader, as a leader in sales, she knew how to focus on solutions. She knew how to look at the bigger picture and not focus on what she could not control. She can't control whether or not we're going to be able to get on planes and actually travel to other countries. But what she could control is those relationships.
She could control how her team is connecting with their clients. That is a way that she was actually able to stay out of the: 'Well, I don't really know, because we don't know what's going to happen. And we don't know... And I just can't come up with any ideas.' To the place where she was like: 'OK, well, what do I know? I know what I know, right? And I'm going to lead my team and inspire my team that way.'.
And that is exactly why she had the best sales numbers of March, the best sales numbers in April. These are the best sales numbers than in previous years. So she had higher sales numbers and the only reason she did is because she actively seeked out: 'How do I come up with solutions and anticipate obstacles?' And in turn, as a benefit, she was actually able to make a larger impact at her organization.
And how will you know if that impact is working? How will you know if you are, in fact, making a bigger impact at your organization? Well, one way would be if they mention you.
The the study that where they said that they would rather receive a company-wide email versus a 500 dollar honorarium. So if people are mentioning you and your contribution, then chances are good that you are, in fact, making a bigger impact at your organization.
Going back to episode number 34. If people are actually asking you for your opinion. So, if you feel like you're finally having influence at your organization, then chances are good that you're also impacting and affecting the bottom line.
And the third way that you're going to know if you're making a big enough impact at your organization and you're actually doing what's necessary, is because you won't have that linear tunnel vision. You'll start to notice that you're thinking differently. You'll start to notice that you're noticing higher level problems. You'll start to notice that you're being included in conversations at a higher level. All of this stuff is going to lead to greater job satisfaction. All of this is going to help you be more productive at your organization today. And if you can be more productive, then what greater impact could you have at your company? What greater impact could you have as an outcome for your 60+ hours a week that you're already putting into your organization?
And if you have that impact today, people will see your value and you will get promoted faster into a senior executive leadership position.
So as I mentioned, this is part two of a three part series. Make sure that you join me next week to learn about energy. How, as you continue to move up the corporate chain, you're able to not only maintain your energy as a corporate executive, but you're able to find more energy because in fact, you're making a bigger influence, you're having more impact at your organization, and you feel better about the work that you're doing.
Thank you so much for joining me today, and I'll see you next week. Bye!
About Your Host
Hi, I’m Stacy Mayer, a Leadership Coach for emerging executives who are ready to take their career to the next level or seeking more fulfillment in their current organizational roles.
I help corporate managers reposition themselves to advance their careers, build confidence in their ability to solve problems in real-time, and step into their higher leadership potential so they can make a bigger impact in their organizations.
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