How often do you communicate with your peers and seniors? The more you communicate frequently, the high chances of being noticed. Make sure that you get a face time with people who have potential to improve your life. It does not matter how many qualifications you have, if you lack the skills to demonstrate your skills, you will never be ‘discovered.’
You must horn your public speaking skills daily. Invest in self-study. Read. Practice in front of a mirror. Learn the life long skills so that you become a speaker that influences and not merely informs.
The biggest challenge with many young people including executives who have been in the system for long is they lack key skills of speaking to influence.
First, you need to invest in reading. You need to expand your knowledge base so that you are aware of what matters most.
However great a public speaker you may be, if you are ignorant about your company’s vision, mission and values, chances of failing to create a connection when you stand up to speak are low. However, if you have strong mastery of the vision and values, it may become easier to connect with personal stories that drive the point home.
You cannot imagine how many people in top positions in large organisations I have interacted with who confess they have never seen a copy of the organization’s strategic plan!
Without clarity about the organisation’s strategy, you cannot understand the thinking of the board and executive members. You cannot know where in the organization’s the next big thing is taking place. In your business, where are executives investing a lot of resources so as to grow? For example, in banking this is in automation, integration with mobile money and mobile banking as the key growth frontiers.
As a staff, if you find yourself still in a department characterised by brick and mortar, manual systems etc, chances of career stagnation are eminent. The challenge for you will be that your role will no longer be mission critical. For is in a bank like Standard Chartered, which is driving digital banking, closing manual bank branches in favour of self-service outlets and automatic teller machines, your services as a Teller can no longer seen as a mission critical. The more you remain in non-mission critical areas, the more risks of losing big time in your career. You need to be in the know of the next pain points of the organization. Where is the organisation pursuing growth? And the capabilities in terms of skill sets being invested in to deliver the growth.
A case in point
In the Hidden Faces movie of 2016, when NASA was recruiting geniuses to support her journey to the moon mission, it had several blacks who were very exceptional with computations. However, to meet their target, they needed a more versatile way to handle large data sets. And that is how IBM machine was created. With its launch, it would make all the lady mathematicians on the mission job less. So, they had to think ahead. They enrolled on courses, undertook self-study on the Fortran automatic coding system. By the time the IBM machine was installed, it needed experts to program it and use it. The lady mathematicians who had been marked for layoff suddenly found themselves a job as they were the only people with the knowledge of programming the machine to make it even better to meet the needs of the mission beyond what the original makers of IBM had in mind.
This is what career planning is all about. It is what separates average staff from exceptional.
You want to position yourself in these areas as the solution maker. This comes from how often you communicate with the CEO. To do so, you must have strong understanding of the business priority areas.
Read the room, understand where the biggest pain points are and make sure you are in meetings with the boss, giving them reports that solve their problems, improve the condition. Let them rely on you to achieve their goals. Once you achieve that, you go very far.
List down the top five key areas of focus of the business and prioritise them as the top two. In those top five, see which ones are strategic and are key outputs for the CEO. Make sure that you do something for the CEO to notice you. Try to push. Nobody will notice you unless you make yourself noticeable.
And if you get a chance to attend the staff meeting or executive committee meeting, forget the advice of being a ‘fly on the wall’ and therefore keeping quiet. Raise your hand and ask the tough questions. No leader with a stake in the business forgets a person who asks tough relevant questions. You could ask questions like “I have read in our strategic plan our focus this year is resource mobilisation. Right? How come we only have one person in the resource mobilisation department? How come the key focus area identified in our strategy is not resourced and supported by a demonstrated big head count to grow partnerships, mobilize resources and increase prospecting activity?”
A question like that referring to the strategy will make you stand out. No one will fail to notice your presence. Don’t be surprised for the top honcho to call you after the meeting to pick your mind on how you think the strategic mismatch could be fixed.