3 Keys For Executive Career Development

Fifty years ago, executives entering the work force did not have to think much about their career development. All they had to was land a job and do the work adequately in order to stay with the company for their entire career and gradually climb up the corporate ladder.

Those days are long gone, though, so you must take a more active role in your executive career development. It is up to you to keep your career on track and keep yourself up to date and valuable to your employer. There are many ways to do this with the help of executive coaching, so here are three key things you should keep in mind when you work with an executive coach on career development.

Key # 1 – You Interview For Your Job Every Day

It is easy to become complacent in a job, especially if you have been doing it for a while.

Day after day, you do your work, fulfill your responsibilities, and collect your paycheck. Before too long it becomes routine, comfortable, and something you can do almost without thinking about it.

Now compare that to a new employee who comes to work every day with interest, energy, and seeking to learn something new. He or she asks questions, shows enthusiasm, and pays attention to the details of the job.

Like it or not, the way you do your job right now influences how you are viewed when it comes time to be considered for promotion or a new position. The people around you and those who might choose to promote or hire you take many things into consideration along the way, so you can enhance your career by continually performing in a way that makes others want you on their team.

This does not mean you “schmooze” your boss or “suck up” to the division vice president. It does mean that you perform your job with honesty, integrity, and to the best of your ability.

Show up to work on time every day, and do not make a habit of leaving just a few minutes early. Dress neatly and appropriately, avoiding trendy fashions or clothing that is too casual or too revealing for the culture of the company. Treat others with respect and behave professionally at all times.

Look for opportunities to mentor others, learn new things, and be a valuable part of every team on which you serve.

Key #2 – Leadership, Leadership, Leadership

The most important trend in executive career development over the last ten to fifteen years is the focus on leadership. It is not enough to simply perform your job responsibilities; you must develop and demonstrate the leadership qualities that companies so desperately need in an increasingly competitive marketplace.

Look for opportunities to develop these skills, both in and out of the work environment. Volunteer to chair an employee committee, and carefully observe people in your organization who are already considered good leaders.

Watch what they do, talk to them; even ask them to be a mentor if you like. Also, take advantage of opportunities elsewhere in your life, such as at your church, a local school, or a community service organization.

Regularly read books, articles and publications that focus on leadership. If you are not sure which ones are the most beneficial, ask your mentor or another leader you respect for some recommendations. Seek out seminars, workshops, and coaching activities where you can learn more about leadership and have opportunities to practice leadership techniques.

Key #3 – Learning Never Stops

In some professions, continuing education is “built in” to the job performance. For instance, medical professionals stay up to date on the latest treatments and techniques, and most states require teachers to earn continuing education credits on a regular basis. Engineers, architects and similar technical disciplines also have a tradition of continuing education.

Most executives, though, do not have this same tradition firmly in place so it is up to you to proactively seek out educational opportunities that improve or broaden your knowledge. The most productive way to show your employer you are eager, inquisitive, and professional is to continually look for ways to further your education.

This might mean going to school to earn an advanced degree such as a master’s or an MBA. It might also mean attending a workshop to learn new communication skills, or taking a class on improving your leadership.

The ideas is to look for opportunities to improve your skills and increase your knowledge so that you become even more valuable to your employer.

Many employers offer tuition assistance for career-related education or flexible work hours to accommodate classes and seminars. If your employer does not have an established program to support continuing education, talk with your supervisor, manager, or human resources representative about it. Find out if there is any way you can be supported in your efforts, and also if you can help the company look at and establish a program for the long term.

Even if you have to pay for continuing education yourself, it is money well spent. When you invest in yourself and your abilities, you prepare yourself to grow your career and reach for any achievement that interests you.

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