5 signs you’re ready for the corner office
The move to senior management isn’t for everyone—but you’re not just anyone.
You’ve shown up early and stayed late. You’ve mentored others who are now on their way to success. Your numbers speak for themselves. Now may very well be the time for you to take on another leap in responsibility―to senior management.
To find out if you’re ready for such a significant vertical move, see if the below signs describe your current work situation. If they sound familiar, you’ll have your answer.
You want more responsibility, not more credit
Senior executives must possess a “very strong sense of accountability for both personal results and business results,” says Todd Averett, president of Leading People Partners, an executive coaching firm in Topeka, Kansas.
A key component of this accountability involves putting your company’s glory before your own. You’ll have to work in the background to remove financial, operational or political obstacles so your team can produce results, says David B. Nast, executive coach and managing partner at Nast Partners in Cherry Hill, New Jersey.
When your desire for a coveted corner office has less to do with satisfying your ego than it does with moving your company forward and helping others flourish, consider that a telling sign that you’re on the right path.
You’re an expert at bringing people together
“Leaders inspire and motivate people,” says Nast. “They know how to communicate a common goal in a compelling way to win followers and to inspire trust and cooperation.”
You’ll know if your people-rallying skills are ace if your communications—written and verbal—are “transparent, succinct and easy to understand,” says Nast. “The more clear and simple the message, the more quickly people can get behind it. You should be able to capture it in one small paragraph and inspire missionaries to go out and evangelize your message.”
You’re a great chess player (metaphorically speaking)
One of the primary responsibilities of a leader is to always have the big picture in mind, and how all the moving parts fit within the organization’s vision, says Nast.
To use a metaphor, this means you see your company like a chessboard—everything is about anticipating your opponent’s actions and reacting accordingly. You predict obstacles and remove them before they negatively impact your team.
“Obstacles can be financial, operational, political or big-picture-driven,” says Nast. Sometimes, he says, advancing the entire organization requires removing obstacles for one department and prioritizing over another. If you’ve got a vantage point that allows you to see the whole picture and make those calls, you’ve got the makings of a senior executive.
Your opinion is valued
If you’re constantly being tapped for your take on things by upper management, that’s a good sign you’re ready to take on the role more formally.
“When the CEO asks for and heeds your advice, it suggests that you have unique insight into company problems and the ability to offer potential solutions, even beyond your own department,” says Averett. “She trusts your competence and believes you will do the things you say you’ll do. She knows you will deliver results.”
You’re trusted in a crisis
There’s no better way to test someone’s true mettle than trial by fire. An organization relies on senior leaders to remain calm, cool and collected during sensitive and high-pressure situations, says Anu Mandapati, executive coach and founder of IMPACT Leadership for Women in Austin, Texas.
Maybe you’ve seen your company through a few rough patches—anything from a public relations flub to a product failure to a natural disaster—and demonstrated an unwaveringly positive mindset. Here’s another good sign: A little extra weight on your shoulders doesn’t bring you down, but rather motivates you to find a way to lift up others through these difficult times, knowing you’ll all emerge stronger and smarter.
A final note: If you have all the qualifications to land a senior executive gig, “Chances are you're already on the radar of the CEO,” says Mandapati, “but they also need to hear from you that you're ready now to grow and contribute at a higher level.” And if there’s no position available to you at your current company, there are plenty of senior executive jobs waiting for you elsewhere.