Working your way up the corporate ladder isn’t a job for sissies. It takes the negotiating skills of a Kissinger and the political smarts of a Reagan to get there with the least number of enemies. But it also takes knowing what kind of management you want to take along with you on the climb up. Just as they say behind every great man is a great woman, so too behind every great manager is a cadre of skilled and intelligent support staff.
So even if you have identified those handful of middle managers you want to take along for the ride, how do you make the best use of them? What kinds of skills do you need to make that ride up to the executive suite and what buttons do you push on the elevator along the way? Here are a few tips that just may come in handy when making that push to the top of the heap in the corporate world.
Looking Beyond Today
Probably the most important skill you can hone is to think in terms of the big picture. We aren’t just talking about pie in the sky plans, but real strategic thinking. While it may be important to keep on top of the day to day planning, looking ahead is key to moving up the ladder.
Truth is, there are plenty of great software programs that can help you stay on top of today’s daily problems, such as Microsoft’s Dynamics 365 operations program. But when it comes to strategic thinking, your best tool is doing as much reading by great leaders as you can, and always thinking three steps ahead.
Collaborate Early and Often
Too many managers think they can do it all themselves. They also want all the credit when things work out right. But this kind of thinking won’t get you up the ladder. Be sure to collaborate by overcoming the barriers of distance, dominance and discomfort. Stay in front of everyone as much as possible, even those who work outside of your immediate sphere.
Don’t assume the roles of those around you, shake up their expectations of how you deal with subordinates. Most of all, understand thoroughly what all of those around you do and what their role is for the company. These will lead to smart collaborations that will enhance your own status as well as bring along with you the best and the brightest.
Keep Communication Open
While it might seem obvious, keeping those lines of communication going in both directions is key to good management. This includes both those above you on the food chain and those below.
If you cannot communicate clearly what you expect from your team you can’t get the results you need. This means hearing them when you are approached about a problem, having the hard conversations about what is needed to meet goals and most of all truly listening.
Management is Team Leadership
As you can see from the examples above, truly great leadership has to come from seeing beyond your own path. When you are seen as a team leader who inspires confidence, the company will see you as someone they want to keep and promote.
Cultivate these management skills and you will find that climbing the corporate ladder is simply an extension of all of this. Good leadership, collaborative management and clear communication are skills every company see value in.