I spend a LOT of time talking to senior executive leaders.
I coach them in my Executive Ahead of Time and Advanced programs.
I speak to them in the stakeholder interviews I do for my clients.
And I interview them right here on this podcast.
And over the course of these countless conversations, I’ve noticed a few key differences between what senior executive leaders are doing to advance their careers, and what leaders like YOU are doing right now.
Now, I want to make this super clear: You have so much in common with these senior executive leaders. But…
…there are a few tweaks you could start making today to unlock massive growth in your career.
In this episode of Maximize Your Career with Stacy Mayer, I will show you exactly what they are.
What You'll Learn:
- The difference between executive-level discussions and management-level decisions
- Why you need to surround yourself with leaders who you actually like
- The “do more” trap that you may be stuck in right now
- How executive leaders create their own confidence
- How to understand YOUR value as an executive leader (even if you aren’t one yet)
Listen to the Full Episode:
Featured on the Show:
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 week.
So, I hope you're sitting down for this win that I'm about to share with you. It's super, super exciting for one of my Executive Ahead of Time graduates who shared this with me last week, and she actually started the text chain with me, as 'I hope you are sitting down'. She had a meeting with her boss last week and he shared with her that he was handing out bonuses to her team of anywhere between two or four thousand dollars with each of the members of her team because they were doing so well over the past several months. And he gave her some compliments. He said that he loved what she was doing. He loved her effective communication with him and her strong leadership skills. And then he gave her a whopping one-time bonus of thirty thousand dollars. So, everyone else on her team was receiving two to four thousand dollars and she's going to receive thirty thousand dollars as just a bonus for effectively communicating and her strong leadership skills.
Now, I repeated why she was receiving this bonus because I really want this to sink in for you guys. She is receiving this bonus because she is effectively communicating, and she has strong leadership skills. This is exactly what I teach inside of Executive Ahead of Time.
We don't have to become a different leader, but what we do have to start doing is communicating more effectively with executive leadership. Now, when she shared this news with me, of course, she was just ecstatic through the moon. And I asked her what she was going to do with the money, and she is going to be able to invest in her son's education. This is huge, people. She's not going to extravagantly blow her wealth, whatever it is, she feels like she's going to really be able to give back to her family.
My friends, this is the work that we're doing as becoming the executive ahead of time, we are learning how to begin thinking and communicating like an executive leader. Yes, so that we can have that higher level title, but also so that we can reap the rewards and the benefits. The “thank you's” that come our way and sometimes their monetary thank you. Sometimes we will receive a thirty-thousand-dollar bonus when everyone else on our team is getting two to four thousand dollars. This is really powerful work, and it works almost immediately. And she was even more excited because she just kept saying in the text messages to me is that 'this is because of what you have taught me. This is what you are teaching me'. She was even more proud that she got this bonus because of her effective communication with him and how she is bringing him on board. And she is really showing him that she is a senior executive leader. And I'm so, so, so incredibly proud of her and an incredibly proud for each one of you. If you are starting to shift the way that you're communicating with the executive leadership, if you're one of the new soon to be graduates of Executive Ahead of Time and you're putting yourself into this program so that you can really start to learn how to think and communicate at that executive level - I applaud you for the work that you're doing for yourself, for your organization and for your family, because this work works and it magnifies. It gets bigger and bigger as you grow for the next 20 years of your career.
So now, speaking of what it takes to become that executive ahead of time - how to begin thinking and communicating like an executive leader - I'm going to break down in today's episode five key things that executive leaders do differently than what you're doing right now; so that you can really see what it looks like, what my graduates are doing different than what it is that you're doing. So, I want to start out with the process that I teach called 3X-ing Your Vision. Now, you've heard me talk about this on the podcast before. Basically, a 3X vision is not your next promotion or even the one after that, but it's three promotions down the line. And once you're able to identify what that 3X vision is, and not just the title, but all the adjectives that go along with it, like the impact that you want to be making for your team. And that's just part one of this process to really creating and making decisions from that 3X division.
So, the first thing that I want you to do is start to think about, OK, what is that 3X vision? So, once we identify for ourselves where we want to be three roles from now, then we put that into work. We actually start making decisions and choices based on where we're going, not where we currently are. Again, we start making executive level decisions versus management decisions. We start communicating as a senior executive leader versus where we are currently in whatever role we're in. Now, I have also shared this before, but this doesn't matter - your title necessarily - you could be a senior vice president and still be communicating to your team as a manager. I had to graduate from Executive Ahead of Time that was a CTO. And he came out of the program understanding how he was still communicating as a manager and making decisions from the management place and building relationships as a manager instead of as the CTO that he really was.
So, I first want to start with that. Okay, we're going to identify what our 3X vision is. And then the question that I want you to start asking yourself is, 'what do I do differently once I become that executive leader'? So, let's say that you are a director right now at your organization and your 3X-ed vision is to become a vice president or a senior vice president. So, it's not the senior director or even the vice president, but a senior vice president. And along with that, what are those adjectives that kind of go along with that - the impact - Do you want to be involved in higher level conversations? You want to literally have a seat at the table. You want to be included on projects that really impact the growth of your organization versus the smaller projects that you're involved in right now. You want to make a bigger global impact, whatever that is for you. So, you identified this 3X vision. You ask yourself, 'what would I be doing differently at the executive level when I am in that position? What choices would I be making? What actions would I be taking? What decisions would I be making at my organization? What relationships would I have if I was at that 3X vision?' And that's how we're really going to start to understand what executives do different than what I'm doing today.
Now, I have asked you to really identify this for yourself, and I would highly recommend - even before you listen to this episode - writing down a few things that first come to mind for you personally. Because here is where the flip is going to happen for you. So, I say, 'what would executives do differently than what you're doing right now?' And you're going to start to look outside of yourself. You're going to look at your senior executive team and you're going to say what they personally do different than what you're doing right now. And I think that's an okay place to start. But where we get tripped up is that we don't actually like the executives that we work for and sometimes we do. Sometimes we have really incredible leaders that we work for, and we want to just completely emulate them and eat that up. But for most of us, I'd say 80 percent of us, we're looking at our executive team and we're thinking, 'oh, God, I don't want to be like them. I don't want to make decisions like them. I don't want to be burned out like them'. So then, therefore you don't pursue higher level executive roles. So, I want you to start to ask the question, 'what would I do differently at the senior executive level'?
In today's episode, I'm going to be showing you what the majority of executives -who I work with, who I have helped grown, who have graduated with me and have gone on to actually become executives - what they do differently. I'm also going to show you what the executives that I speak with on a regular basis - whether it's on my podcast or in my stakeholder interviews with my graduates - I'm going to start to show you what they do differently. But what I want you to know is each one of the people that I interact with on a regular basis is usually somebody that I want to emulate. I don't hang around with the crappy leaders. I mean, I don't have to. And so, they're not my boss. They're not my boss's boss. But you're kind of stuck with them. And so, you're seeing that on a regular basis. And so, you're like, 'oh, my God, I don't want to be like them'. So, you're getting hit in the face. So, I surround myself with leaders that I either want to be like myself or that I want my graduates to be like as well. So those are the type of leaders that I'm looking up to that I'm building my business on, that I'm growing in my own leadership as I continue to advance to higher executive levels myself in my own thinking and the way I'm communicating with each one of you.
So, I'm clarifying all of this because it's so important. If this is what you get out of today's episode, 'what would I personally do different at my 3X vision if I was a senior executive leader' versus 'what would Such-and-such do different than what I'm doing today', that is going to motivate you to no end to figure out how to get yourself into those higher-level executive positions. So here are five things that I start to see executive leaders - again, executive leaders that are very much like you - that they do very different than what you are doing today.
So, the first thing is that executive leaders are very motivated and driven to do more. Now, you are currently incredibly motivated and currently very, very driven to do more. So, at the management level - and I'm just going to generalize her - so I'm basically speaking to you if you're at this director level. So, you're leading a team, you have grown in your career, you have exhibited strong leadership as well as subject matter expertise, and you're now at that director level. Congratulations. And you're highly motivated and driven to do more. Now, we're going to look at that senior vice president, the one that you actually want to emulate and think about how they do things differently than where you're currently at and motivated and driven to do more. So, what I see - the trap that many people fall into at your level - is that you start to literally do more.
You talk more. You're putting in more hours. You're signing up for projects. You're raising your hand. You're taking a class. And you're joining the women's resource group. And you're trying and you're trying and you're trying so hard and you're doing all of these things. But you're not doing it from a place of - like the 80/20 - where are you going to get the biggest bang for your buck? And so, at the senior vice president level, they're still motivated and driven to do more. But what they're doing that's different than where you're at currently is they're working smarter, not harder.
So, they're making very deliberate strategic decisions. They are building relationships on purpose. They are communicating in a way that they can actually be heard instead of just speaking up louder. They're actually saying no to projects. They're being incredibly discerning about the projects that they take on. One of my graduates, she actually, when she joined Executive Ahead of Time, the first thing that she did is start eliminating things that she was working on that didn't work for her. As she continues to grow her career, she could see very clearly the different areas that she was volunteering for that weren't actually helping her do more. When we're talking about doing more, we're talking about making a bigger impact at a higher level. And sometimes we can make an even bigger impact by doing less, by being more strategic about it. So, they're still just as driven as you are today, but they're being much smarter about the choices that they're making.
Another thing that I see executive leaders do that you're not doing right now is they are deliberately managing their career. There is not an executive leader that is effective at their job (again, that's why I said these are the executive leaders that I want to emulate, not the ones that are not great) who isn't constantly thinking about what's next for their career. There is a woman that I follow on LinkedIn, and I was originally introduced to her because one of my graduates had her as a mentor and her name is Lady Idos and she works at Lawrence Berkeley Lab. I'm actually in Berkeley, California, and I started out my career as a coach, doing a ton of work up the hill - literally up the hill - at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. And I admire this woman. She was the head of diversity and inclusion at Lawrence Berkeley Lab, an incredible thought leader and executive at Lawrence Berkeley Lab, made huge changes in the two and a half years that she was there. And I just really fell in love with her leadership, actually never technically met her. It's just through the woman that I was working with, one of my graduates. And she would talk about her, and I was just like, oh, my gosh, this leader has it going on.
And I recently noticed that she took a role at the Department of Energy in Washington, D.C. So, she could stay at Berkeley Lab forever, right? I'm sure that everybody loves her, and she is making a huge impact. But what's next after Lawrence Berkeley Labs? It's the Department of Energy. She wants to make a bigger impact globally - like all, everywhere - not just in her small community. I guarantee you - and like I said, I've never met this woman, but I know how she thinks - she's always thinking 'what's next?'. And this is not in an effort to say that you're not being present and that you're not enjoying what it is and doing the work that you need to do at the current role that you're in. But what I notice time and time again, the C-Suite leaders, the higher-level executive leaders, what they're doing is they're deliberately managing their career. They're going and working for the organizations, for the teams where they can make the bigger impact. And this is so incredibly freeing, my friends.
When you start to develop this mindset, when you start to look and understand your own value and where you can make the biggest impact and you go to the next opportunity, that is when things really start to shift for you. And you can start to do this now. Like I said, as you start to develop this executive mindset - and this is what we're doing, even in today's podcast episode - you're starting to think. What would be next for me if I was thinking about where I want to be three roles from now and making decisions from that place.
The third thing that I see so often that executive leaders do different than what you're currently doing in your own personal mindset and your own journey as a manager - with manager level thinking - is that you create your own confidence. So, one of the pitfalls that I see a lot of women fall into is that they think that they can go for these higher-level roles when they feel more confident. But at the executive level, the understanding and the thinking is that you create confidence for yourself. I know this to no end. I remember when I first started coaching - like almost a decade ago - I was given feedback that I needed to be more confident. And I've been a public figure my entire life. I've been on stage since I was in high school and performing; and I was like, 'well, I don't have a problem talking in front of people', but I just wasn't confident. And I remember feeling incredibly defeated by this because I thought, 'how am I ever going to be confident'? And if I could become confident, then I can become a great coach. No. And of course, like I said, this is not what I thought then. I had to learn this. But I started to go out and create confidence. And the way that I did that is by owning my own thought leadership. I leapt before I was ready. I realized the ideas that I had, and I started to share my own personal take on things.
So, for you, what this looks like is creating your confidence means starting with what you do know. Not trying to become that executive leader that you think you should be but starting exactly where you are and having conversations with executive leaders. And in your higher-level team meetings, wherever you are, speaking up, sharing ideas from exactly the place that you are. When you start to do that, you feel confident when people start to notice your ideas, when they jump on them, when they start to be able to pursue them, you feel incredibly confident. Now you're also scared to death. You're like, 'oh, my God, I hope I can back that up'. But the point is, is that when you share - not making stuff up - but share from your own genuine enthusiasm and knowledge and expertise that you have, when you start to be able to do that, you feel incredibly confident, and it is such a powerful thing.
So executive leaders, people who are already in that executive level of mindset and thinking, what they do differently is they understand that confidence is created. It's not something that's given to them. So, they're constantly going out, pushing the envelope in areas that they feel less confident. They're pushing themselves and doing it anyway.
The fourth place where I start to see executive leaders who act different than quote-unquote managers is they understand and navigate the goals of the organization. So, you're sort of doing that right now and you're doing that by being really great at the projects that you're working on and being told what to do. And doing a really fantastic job. At the executive level, what they're doing a little bit different than you is they are actively seeking out to understand what the higher-level goals of the organization. A question that I like to have my graduates ask is something like 'what keeps you up at night'? So, if you had a conversation with an executive leader, you're saying what keeps you up at night. You have to know what gets your boss fired. Think about that for a minute. Literally think about that.
What if instead of focusing on your project and making sure that you get it perfect - Because, my friend, you're going to get it perfect, okay? - you already know how to do your project. What we're talking about is just take a little bit of that thinking and be a little bit smarter about it. Okay, so we're going to do both. We're not ignoring the project, letting it fall apart. But in the meantime, we're sort of thinking, 'within this project what actually matters to my boss?' That is higher level executive thinking - what actually matters to the CEO? Why are we even doing this project? So first, you're starting to understand the needs of the organization. The only way you're going to understand those needs is through conversation. You can't just sit in your office and make it up. You have to be having conversations with executive leadership on a regular basis to start to understand this. And so, no C-Suite executive is ignorant of the needs of the organization, of the needs of the other executives. And when you're working in a silo and you're in your own world, it's so much struggle. Those are the executives that you see floundering, you know, having to put in the extra hours feeling like they can't get ahead. But the type of executive that we want to emulate is the one that understands the big picture, knows what gets everybody at the organization fired, knows what it is that they actually care about; and does their communicating, and communicates according to that. Not according to your own personal checklist. This is what executives do different than what you're doing now.
And the last thing that executives do differently - and I kind of alluded to this at the beginning because really, honestly, it's probably the most important thing - is that they understand their value as an executive leader. And you can understand your value as an executive leader, as a director, as a senior director, as a vice president, as a senior vice president, as a C-Suite leader, no matter where you are in the chain of command. You can know your leadership style. You can understand your five core values. You can know how you make decisions. You can know how you're meeting cadences. You can know the value that you bring to leadership today. You can understand all of those things today. This is the process that I walk you through inside of Executive Ahead of Time because it is so emphatically important. It is so crucial to your success as you continue to rise. Because right now you understand your value to your organization based on the projects that you're working on, based on the hours that you put in, based on the fires that you put out, based on how you're showing up, literally just showing up. And I want you to understand that your real value to the organization is your ideas. And any executive leader understands that. So, they take care of themselves accordingly, they build their teams accordingly, they get resources accordingly. Because they are thinking about higher level executive decisions and how they are incredible at this. What is their unique skill set that they bring to the organization? And so, you're going to start to do that today. You are going to understand inside and out what your unique value is to the organization.
I had a graduate inside of Executive Ahead of Time that joined the program right after being passed over for a promotion. So, it's sort of lowest of the low, right? You get pushed to join a program because you're like, 'well, got to do something different'. So, in that case, I think it's actually a good thing that she got passed over for promotion. But what we had to do is we had to focus on what made her leadership great, why she was an asset to her organization; because she was feeling like she wasn't. Well, they might as well just hire outside, which is what they did.
And so, she was feeling pretty frustrated and thinking she was going to have to go outside of her company to be able to show them her value as a leader. But the first thing we had to do, and it's not even ‘remind her’ of her value as a leader, she actually didn't know it. She had value as a subject matter expert. That's how she was showing up. That's how she was communicating every single day. But she wasn't communicating as an executive leader. So, quite frankly, they passed her over.
And this is good news, because when you can start to recognize and listen to an episode like this and identify with these five steps that I'm talking about and say, 'oh, I'm not doing that'. Now, you can do something different. You can make different choices. You can start to emulate executive leadership no matter where you are currently. This is powerful, my friends. This is a 'Promotion Blueprint', you have it all laid out there for you - exactly what you need to do to make it into that next level of leadership. You have everything that you need to do to have your boss walk into your office; and instead of giving you a two-to-four-thousand-dollar bonus like he's giving everybody else, he gives you a thirty-thousand-dollar bonus. He did not give that bonus to her because she was a fantastic manager. He gave that bonus to her because she was an incredible leader.
Each one of you have the potential to become an incredible, incredible asset to your organization. And I am so, so thrilled to be able to help you get there. Thank you so much for listening, and I'll see you next week. Bye.
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.