A woman named Noel recently reached out to me via email for feedback on how she could balance her full-time work with her career aspirations. My simple advice was: you don’t.
Let me break this down.
I want you to look around at your company’s executive team. How did they get to where they are today? They didn’t get promoted to the C-Suite by accident, right? They got promoted into the C-Suite by taking purposeful action to get promoted. Because the reality is, career advancement is part of your job description. You may have been promoted to mid-level management because you were a great subject matter expert, but once you get closer and closer to the executive level, part of your day job is focusing on how to take the next step forward in your career.
So, what does this look like?
- It means constantly having professional development conversations with your boss.
- It means having mentor-like discussions with every single member of the leadership team.
And the only reason that you may be struggling to have these kinds of conversations is because you’re in the weeds.
Here’s what I want you to do:
Examine the things you are doing every day that aren’t actually part of your job description.
I see so many new clients who are still doing work that is way too tactical. They’re working on the day-to-day deliverables rather than focusing on the higher level strategy that is actually meaningful to their organization. And if you’re at a director level or above and you’re not having these strategic conversations with your boss, you’re not doing your job.
Here’s a case study for how to make career advancement part of your job description.
I had a client who was a Senior Director of Finance at her organization. She was still having tactical check-ins with her boss and she was Stressed. Out. She was in the weeds, and she wasn’t combining career advancement with her current position. This client knew that she wanted to step into a CFO position some day, but it felt like it would be five or 10 years down the road. As the Senior Director of Finance, part of her role was to ask her peers for their numbers. But… she had to hound them. She reached out to hire me as her coach and we discussed how to shape and communicate her needs in a way that was less tactical and more visionary.
She focused on the things she needed to do to become a VP.
Now she’s thinking like a VP, even though she’s still operating at a director level. She’s bringing those higher level ideas and conversations to her boss, and she’s not afraid to speak directly to the CEO. Then… she was let go. But within three weeks, she landed a VP position at a different organization. Within a year and half of us working together, she reached her dream of becoming a CFO.
That is how you make career advancement part of your job description.