Ep #77: The 5 Biggest Career Lessons I’ve Learned from Running My Executive Ahead of Time Program
When I first started coaching many years ago, I was focused on giving my clients the tools they needed to become better leaders.
And it worked!
The corporate women I coached developed their leadership skills, became time management experts, and were better able to have difficult conversations with their teams.
While they were becoming amazing leaders and getting pats on the back, they weren’t always getting promoted.
That’s when I uncovered that getting promoted didn’t just happen because you’re a great leader. It happens when you start being deliberate about your career.
So I shifted my coaching and began showing my students the exact steps they needed to take to get promoted into those higher levels of leadership.
And, yes, I still teach my students to become amazing leaders, but there is a difference between being amazing in the role you already have, and doing what it takes to get promoted to that next level.
As I’ve grown my coaching business and expanded my group coaching intensive, Executive Ahead of Time, I’ve continued to discover more and more lessons about what it takes to really advance your career.
I usually save these secrets for my students, but in this episode of Maximize Your Career with Stacy Mayer, I’m letting YOU in on these secrets, too.
What You'll Learn:
- Why getting better at your current role won’t get you promoted
- Exactly why having a community helps you advance your career
- The three steps to communicating like a senior executive leader
- My secret to changing your career trajectory for the next 20 years
- How to create consistent growth in your career
Listen to the Full Episode:
Featured on the Show:
- Listen to my episode on Eleanor Beaton’s podcast, Power + Presence + Position
- Download my Ask Better Questions checklist
- Connect with me on LinkedIn
- Join the waitlist for my 6-week group coaching intensive, Executive Ahead of Time
Hello everyone. Welcome to another episode of Maximize Your Career, I'm your host, Stacy Mayer. And super excited, as always, to be here with you again this fabulous week.
I am so excited to be getting closer to the summer, getting started, thinking about actually making plans, which is a little bit surreal. But like many of you, it's really interesting because there's something different on the horizon. We don't know exactly what it's going to be like. We don't know what the rest of the year is going to be like. But we can sense change. And oftentimes change is very excruciating and painful. And then sometimes it can be extremely hopeful and promising. And I think that that's the new age that we're entering into, is this idea of promise and hope.
And speaking of promise and hope, I want to dedicate today's episode to my Executive Ahead Of Time program.
So recently, I was interviewed on my business coaches podcast about creating this program, and it was sort of a behind-the-scenes look at what it took to create this program and how I transitioned from working with clients one-on-one into opening up a group environment for them. And what were some of the challenges that I faced and what were some of the lessons that I learned.
And in today's episode, I want to share with you those similar lessons, but in terms of what you can in particular apply to your own career. So there were many surprises. There were many incredible things that I never could have imagined that came out of both creating Executive Ahead Of Time and then also offering that program for three rounds now.
But before we get into that, I want to say a special thank you to one of my recent graduates, Kendra, who left me a glowing testimonial on LinkedIn. And I wanted to share that with you today.
So she just graduated from the most recent round of Executive Ahead Of Time. And when she first joined the program, she actually was recently passed over for a promotion. And what I mean by that is they just hired people above her. Now, it's not that she was necessarily promised the promotion and then taken away. It's just that all of a sudden her eyes were opened to opportunities that she was perhaps being glossed over for. And she wanted to join the program so that she could gain that confidence and also the tools to begin to put herself in those higher level executive positions.
So Kendra shared with us that:
The Executive Ahead Of Time program will help you unlock the next level of your amazing self. The format of these six weeks offers a pathway, the support and the means for motivation for you to take the steps in leading your life and career in the direction you want to go. And it gives you the kinship of a powerful community of supportive people all headed in a similar direction, taking this path along with you.
Thank you so much for this wonderful review, Kendra. And thank you for showing up for yourself.
So she said at the beginning of this review that it was able to unlock your amazing self. And so many of the women that come into the program are really incredible managers. They're getting very high performance reviews. I mean, Kendra was the go to person at her organization. It's not that people are doing a bad job and they need to be fixed. It's just that we need to uncover what is already there so that they can have the confidence and also the communication skills to express themselves at that higher executive level, to really have the tools necessary to go for that next level of leadership.
And inside of Executive Ahead Of Time. I take each of these clients on a six week journey together, giving them all of the tools to literally advocate for their promotion, but also the confidence. So they come out of the program setting themselves up for a higher level executive position and also making sure that they have success once they get there.
So we're not just raising our hand and saying: 'Hey, give me a promotion,' and then you get it and you're like: 'Oh, I don't know what to do with myself.' No, I'm giving them all of the tools to literally become that Executive Ahead Of Time, ensuring their success at that higher executive level.
So that's what we do inside of the six week group coaching intensive and at the end of the summer in August of 2021, depending on when you're listening to this episode, you can start enrolling again for this program. So I encourage you, if you're listening to this episode and you really want to make sure that you're the first in line, that you go ahead and sign up for my waitlist now. So go to www.ExecutiveAheadOfTime.com, get your name on that wait list, because I offer very special VIP bonuses as soon as we open enrollment. Also, enrollment is only open for a very short period of time. So I just want to make sure that you don't miss out on that opportunity of really setting yourself up for that next level of leadership and getting all of the tools that you need to make sure that you're successful once you get there. So go to www.ExecutiveAheadOfTime.com, and sign up for the wait list and you'll be all set.
So like I said in today's episode, I'm going to be walking you through some of the surprises, some of the lessons learned inside of Executive Ahead Of Time, what I learned by creating this program, and then what you can actually start applying to your own career development today.
So before I started creating Executive Ahead Of Time, I have been coaching for several years, and I want to give you a little bit of background about being so that you can understand why I created this program and it will also show why I think the program has been such a success since we started it. And essentially when I started out my coaching career, I was pretty much a cookie cutter corporate coach. I coached women's leadership skills, basically how to become a better manager, how to necome a more effective leader, how to even have difficult conversations with your team. I'm a certified emotional intelligence instructor. So all of these basic leadership skills that you've probably read about, I know many of the listeners to my podcast are people who are putting themselves out there, who are reading the books, who are trying to figure out what this and crack this code, this missing piece of what it's going to take to get them from a mid-level management position into a higher level executive position.
And so that's how I started out my career was giving managers the tools to become better leaders. And what I quickly found is that they had a lot of really great skills. They were better at time management. They were better able to have difficult conversations with their team. But what they weren't getting was recognition in the form of a title or compensation. So they were getting recognition in terms of pats on the back, in terms of being able to be told that their incredible leaders, but they were getting the recognition that was actually going to catapult them into those higher levels of influence. Those positions where they were able to make that bigger impact at their organization, they weren't actually getting into those positions of influence.
And so they started to be frustrated. And so that's what I was noticing. And that was the trend that I was noticing when I first started my own personal coaching business. And I decided that I was going to specifically focus on what it takes to get promoted into those higher levels of leadership. And it's essentially that missing piece. So you've done the work. You're reading the leadership books, you're having the conversations, you're raising your hand, you're asking for more. You're being given more, but you're not actually getting the title to go along with it.
And what I found is that the difference between the people who are successful and those people who still felt stuck and underappreciated and under recognized and underpaid was that they were not deliberately managing their career and their life.
So what I do inside of Executive Ahead Of Time and then before that, in all of my coaching with clients, is I give them the tools to begin to deliberately manage their career and their life so that they're actively going for that promotion. They understand that a promotion is not a reward for their hard work, that they're actively putting themselves out there so that they can get recognized not just through the pats on the back, but so that they can actually get tapped on the shoulder for promotion opportunities. So those are the skills that I give my clients, and that's essentially the framework for what I turned into Executive Ahead Of Time.
And like I said, I had been coaching one-to-one clients for a while, getting them promoted into these higher level executive positions. I also coach executives who are already in those higher level executive positions. People who are in fact, in the c-suite, in senior vice president roles, but they still find themselves not being major influencers at their organization. They don't actually have that voice at the table that they so desire. And what they did is they scaled all of their bad habits with them, essentially. So they're still in the weeds, they're still frustrated, they're still stuck, and they weren't able to actually make that transition. So those are the two different categories of clients that I've been working with over the years.
And I used everything that I had learned and what actually worked for my clients. And I turned that into Executive Ahead Of Time. I turned that into the program that exists today, which is the six-week group coaching intensive where I not only give you the modules, the core training modules, so that you can you can delve into all of that information. And I also give you the communication tools, literally the words to say in your meetings what you're actually communicating to executive leadership, how to begin managing up. But then I also give you coaching. So I'm able to point out your blind spots in real time. I'm able to point out your challenges in real time.
And then here is the third benefit. And this is something that I didn't have when I was coaching one-on-one is a community to support every single person that's going through this program. So when I was coaching one-on-one, it was just me and the other person. And we were working through it. And that works quite well. You get a lot of personalized attention. You're able to make those strides, but, the first big surprise, and it wasn't really a surprise, because I know how important community is to me and feeling a sense of belonging and being around other important, powerful leaders in my own community, I know that firsthand. But being able to experience that connection that all of the corporate leaders who went through the first three rounds of Executive Ahead Of Time experienced has just been extraordinary.
So the first big win or secret or just big major outcome that came out of the first three rounds of Executive Ahead Of Time is this unbelievable, incredible community. And if you are listening to this podcast and you feel inspired by the work that I'm doing, imagine if you were in a group cohort of 20 or 30 other individuals where you could all experience this work together. It is so profound and so impactful.
So these corporate leaders are cheering each other on. They're giving each other practical management advice, core leadership advice that we don't even talk about in the coaching in terms of getting promoted. They're giving each other these tools. What they have learned with working with their teams. They're challenging each other. And then most importantly, they're showing everyone else in the group what is possible. It is so profound to show other people and to challenge other people yo see what is possible for them.
So when you see somebody that you had met just six weeks earlier, feeling not so confident, feeling confused, not knowing what their 3xed vision was for their career, and then in just 6-weeks, not only are they clear on what their vision is, but they're actively going out and having conversations with the executive leadership. That is super powerful.
The other thing is, is like I said, I get a lot of executives. We've had c-suite executives inside of this program. And it's really incredible to have a senior manager and a c-suite executive sitting right next to each other and having the exact same challenges. Now, you could listen to that and be like: 'Oh, that's terrible.' No, it's actually really fantastic, because what it shows that leader both at the c-suite level and at the senior management level, it shows them that it's not personal. It's not you, you're not the person who's not capable of making it to the c-suite. You just haven't been given the tools yet to get yourself there in a successful way. So we can get there. We can get promoted into the c-suite without anything that I'm teaching. And you see people do that all the time. But what I don't want is I don't want you to struggle and have challenges once you get there. Because every person who listens to my podcast knows that what I really want for you is to get promoted into those higher level leadership positions so that you can really make that impact that you want to make, so that you can have actual influence at your organization, and so that you can have the energy to thrive at that higher level leadership position. That is why we're doing this work. We're not doing this so that you can get to the top and struggle and work 80 hour weeks and hate your life. No, thank you.
And so having that community of support and really just the other leaders around you who are challenging you...it's just so incredible. We have a Voxer group inside of the program. And Voxer is a chat room, sort of like WhatsApp, where we have these private chats and each group gets their own private chat. And so many of them are still staying connected even after the program. They're setting up their own private accountability groups and Zoom chats throughout the week so that they can continue to maintain these connections. Because these are strong bonds that will literally last throughout the rest of their career. It is so exciting to be the the conduit, the person that brings all of these incredible leaders together. So I am just forever profoundly grateful and also just wanted to share with you that impact.
There's a few more lessons that I have learned since I created Executive Ahead Of Time in October of 2020. And right now, as we're doing this episode, we're at the end of May of 2021. And so I want to share those with you for the rest of this episode.
So in my one-on-one coaching, I noticed that there are basically three things that you need to do. Three simple steps if you want to get yourself promoted into higher level leadership positions. And and these steps are relatively simple in and of themselves. I like to make things very simple, very manageable, very doable. Yet they're extremely challenging to actually do on a regular basis. And you'll understand why as I start to share this with you. And so that's why I don't just say: 'Oh, here's the steps. Go do them. Come on. What's wrong with you?'
No. it's because, as we're doing these three simple steps, we have to start becoming that Executive Ahead Of Time, we have to learn how to think and communicate like that senior executive leader.
So those three steps are:.
1. You need to get yourself out of the weeds.
2. You need to 3x the vision for your career, and...
3. You need to build trust with the executive team that you're ready to lead at a higher executive level.
That's it. Those three things. Get yourself out of the weeds, 3x the vision for your career, and build trust with leadership.
Now, the reason why I'm sharing those with you today, I'm not going to go into all of the details about what each one of them mean. And please comb through my podcast because it's all in there over the past 70 episodes. you can look at them and learn all about these skills in way more detail. But what I'm going to show you is how those three steps really transformed and manifested inside of Executive Ahead Of Time in particular.
So I learned those three steps through coaching one-on-one with my clients, and then I created this program based off that, but you don't know what the program is going to become and how it's really going to take form until you actually do the work.
So let's start with getting out of the weeds.
So inside, I'll just tell you briefly. You know that if you're in a higher executive leadership position, you can't be in all the details. You can't lead other leaders and micromanage them. You can't be in the details, one, because it doesn't build trust, because it's frustrating, because it's annoying, because it doesn't make you effective at your job, and then, two, because it will stress you out, it will lead to burnout. You won't be able to think strategically as you want to be able to and you'll be frustrated.
So inside of Executive Ahead Of Time, we're essentially learning from the ground up how to pull ourselves out of the weeds, no matter what kind of role we're in. I actually get clients inside of the program who are individual contributors. They're not even in a leadership role yet. So we have we have clients all the way from ICs up to c-suite executives In the same room with each other. But they all have the same challenges. They're not getting themselves out of the weeds.
So I show them that getting out of the weeds is as much about communication, if not more, than time management. And because it is about communication, then I give them the communication skills and they see shifts almost immediately. So many of the leaders who sign up for the program are pretty stressed out already and they're like: 'How can I even carve out six weeks to do this program?' But because I'm teaching them how to communicate differently with executive leadership, they immediately start to see themselves get out of the weeds. Their stress levels go down. They start to realize the possibility that they might be able to get paid for their ideas instead of the hours that they put in at work – instantly.
So that's something I wanted to share with you that was actually really a bit shocking how quick they got results. It's a six-week program and within week one. Just listening to the modules and applying the communication techniques: bam, they felt different. Bam, they were starting to have better conversations with their boss, with their boss's boss. So, so good. So that's the surprise there is. I didn't realize quite how fast it would happen. And it does it happen so quickly and it's just it's so rewarding and so amazing.
The second step, which is 3xing the vision for your career. So essentially we're making decisions not from the place of our next promotion. So if you're in the director level, we're not thinking about becoming a senior director or even a vice president. We are making all of our decisions from that senior vice president place. Three times from now. And so once I teach them how to first understand what that 3x vision is and then how to make decisions from that place, so many opportunities open up for them.
So the surprise that I learned since launching the program is I understood the power of making decisions from that 3xed vision in place really early on. I've been teaching my clients for many, many years and it's been super effective. But what I didn't know is how few people have a 3xed vision. I mean, I suspected it. But you get this many corporate leaders coming through your program and you realize almost instantly: 'Oh my gosh, let's just create a vision here.' And so then they would start to create a vision, but they wouldn't weren't able to own it. 'Well, that's not really possible. I don't understand or that can't happen at my organization.' And again, like I said, these are challenges that I face with my one One-to-one one clients all of the time. But inside of Executive Ahead Of Time, it just became glaringly clear how resistant most human beings are to setting big goals for ourselves.
And so a huge eye opener for me was really I could have clients, I had one client who really at the end of the six weeks, she said that her biggest takeaway from the six weeks is that she finally believes her 3xed vision. So it wasn't even just creating the vision, but it's like: I actually believe that it's possible.
So coming out of the six weeks of Executive Ahead Of Time, if you believe that you can actually become a senior vice president someday and then I give you the tools to actually get there. I mean, this changes everything. It literally changes the trajectory of the next 20 years of your career. Can you imagine? It is so, so profoundly powerful. So that's the big lesson learned there with the 3xed vision, is that is that it wasn't just about creating the vision, but it's like: how can I get my students to believe it? To really see that it's possible? And I think a lot of that came from the community. And seeing the other women in the group really come together and believe their own vision and support each other to believe their vision and go back and forth and challenge each other and applaud each other and congratulate each other and be there for each other when things don't work out, when they put themselves out there and interview for a position and don't get it. It's so supportive. It's really profound.
And then the third step in my simple-ish three-step process is that you're going to start to build trust with leadership. And this is a huge bulk of the work that I do in terms of communication, because I'm teaching you how to manage up, how to communicate with executive leaders so that they could really see you as that executive. And that's a big part of the reason why so many people don't get brought in to higher level executive positions is because the executive team doesn't see it. They don't see you as an executive leader. And that can feel really frustrating because you're like: 'What does that even mean?'.
Well, I know exactly what it means and that's what I teach you. So that this no longer is a skill that is unobtainable. This is a real thing that you can actually go out and do. And so I teach my students inside of Executive Ahead Of Time how to actually build that trust. And one of the ways that we do it is by creating 15-Minute Ally Meetings.
And these are short 15-minute meetings that you're having with the executive team to just get in front of them and get to know them and start to share your career ambitions. And so, again, this is a process that I've been teaching for a while, but I realized once we got inside of Executive Ahead Of Time that the challenge for people, yes, was to schedule that meeting and then, two, was to actually have that meeting. And what they would do is they would get these big, like dopamine hits where you're like: 'Oh, my gosh, that was so great. That would so great. Oh, it's amazing. I feel so good. I finally believe my 3xed vision. I just had a meeting with my boss's boss and it just went phenomenal.'
And here's where everything falls off. They don't want to have it again. They don't want know what to do to keep it going. They sort of think: 'Oh, that was it.' And as with anything, our goal is consistent growth. I teach clients how to become grounded and confident. That grounded confidence. Just think about those two words, grounded confidence. And essentially that means we're not doing a rollercoaster ride here. So we don't get these big dopamine hits by having one 15-Minute Ally Meetings and think that's the best thing in the whole world. And then three weeks go by and nothing else happens for our career and we feel like crap again. That's the rollercoaster. What we're doing is we're getting off of that roller coaster and we're creating consistent growth. It doesn't have to happen slowly. I almost started to say slow, consistent growth. What happens actually, it happens extremely quickly. But it's it's consistent. And that is becoming the Executive Ahead Of Time is that you actually understand the skills that it takes to succeed in executive leadership.
I'm not just telling them how to raise their hand and ask for more. I'm showing them how to actually be successful once they get into those higher level positions. So we don't do that just by having the one 15-Minute Ally Meeting and we're like: 'yay.' And so I think the resistance there is that these 15-Minute Ally Meetings, these conversations that we're having are on a regular basis. And so that was actually a surprise to me, because when I coach people one-on-one, we don't even go there because I'm coaching them on a weekly basis and we're talking and I'm like: 'Yep, OK, when's the next meeting? When's the next meeting? What are we doing?' So by the end of six months of working with me, they really come out being super grounded, super consistent. They understand what yhat looks like. But inside of Executive Ahead Of Time, I had to tailor the way that I was coaching the people in the group because they needed to understand that this was not just a huge win. And I want to celebrate them for that win, but it's who they're becoming. They're changing the way that they see themselves, which means that they're always advocating, even when they make it into the c-suite.
And I think that that's why it's so powerful to have c-suite executives inside of the program as well, is because you see those c-suite executives struggling to have those consistent meetings with their CEO, with their board, with their team, with other peers across the organization. So there's all kinds of people that you can be networking and meeting with to create these 15-Minute Ally Meetings, regardless of how small your organization is or how high of a level you are. But it's who you are becoming along the way. You are changing the way that you see yourself and the way executive leadership sees you so that you can have tremendous success for the rest of your career.
So those are the three big secrets, lessons that I learned throughout the course of creating Executive Ahead of Time. Actually, I guess it's four because I also talked about creating connection. And then why don't we add a fifth one on here? Which is that all of these graduates of Executive Ahead Of Time are wanting more. So I said that they're creating their Zoom groups, they're staying connected. But because their eyes have been opened and they're wanting more and they see what's possible, so many of them are transitioning effortlessly into my Advanced Promotion Accelerator training program, where we go even deeper on each of these topics and we spend even more time together so that we can really make sure that they are that executive. That they are developing that grounded confidence, that consistency that sticks with them for the rest of their career. And I am so delighted, of course, that they want more and that they want more training, that they are craving more.
But the thing that I am most sincerely proud of is, if you were listening to this podcast and you love everything that I teach. And you read leadership books and you listen to it and you get it, but you've never had a coach before, it's understandable because we don't actually really understand what coaching is and and the power and the magnitude of what it can do for us until we have one. because we're used to going to school and school ends. It opens and closes. And we're like: 'OK, well, that was fun. And I got this degree even got an MBA.' But those teachers go away. And so when you have a coach, somebody who is rooting you on, that is challenging you, that is pointing out your particular blindspots, when you have that, you want more.
I got my first coach...I was living in New York City and I think it might have been 2003. Oh, my gosh. Yeah, I was just doing the math. I had hired my first coach in 2003 and I didn't know what it could do for me. I didn't know what to expect. And it completely changed my life. I was hooked. And if you meet senior executive leaders who have had coaches, who have coaches, who have those strong mentors, the people who really guide them throughout their life, they talk about how it was everything. It made all the difference in their career, and I think once these leaders come into my program and then see what's possible for them through having an environment that's constantly challenging them, they want more. They want more of that. And they want to keep going and they want to join the Promotion Accelerator and they want to keep in the Promotion Accelerator and they want to keep connected to all of these incredible women that they met throughout the program and just keep going, going, going, going, going which is allowing them to go, go, go in their career as well. To to expand their career, to soar to heights they never really even imagined before. This is the power of having a community, having a strong program, having a support system around you as you continue to grow, as you change and as you develop to just really be that anchor for you.
So I have just been very honored to create three rounds of Executive Ahead Of Time. I absolutely cannot wait to bring this back to you guys in the fall and we'll be enrolling again in August of 2021. Again, go to www.ExecutiveAheadOfTime.com to get your name on that wait list. I am so, so proud of all of my incredible graduates. I have pictures on my wall. I read their testimonials, I read their wins when they email them to me, long after the program has ended. And I literally am just bursting with pride and so, so incredibly proud of all of that they have accomplished and all that they're going to accomplish over these next 20 years.
Thank you all so much for listening and I'll see you next week.
About Your Host
Hi! I'm Stacy Mayer, a Certified Executive Coach and Promotion Strategist on a mission to bring more diversity to the leadership table by getting 1000 underrepresented corporate managers promoted into senior executive positions each year worldwide.
I help undervalued executives scale to the C-Suite using repositioning strategies that build your confidence and visibility, so you can earn the recognition and support you need from key stakeholders while embodying your unique leadership style.
My podcast “Women Changing Leadership with Stacy Mayer” tackles topics like executive communication, getting more respect in the workplace from challenging bosses and team members, and avoiding the common mistakes that sabotage career advancement.