The chief executive officer is the head honcho. The person in charge. He or she is the one that presumably calls the shots. The CEO is everything you should be for your own career. Here I discuss 10 parallels between what a CEO does and what you should be doing to be the chief executive of your career.
1) Have a vision
The CEO is the captain of the corporate ship. She has a long-term vision for what the company stands for and where it needs to go. She steers the rudder of that ship to correct its direction before it veers too far in any other direction.
An individual should do the same for his career. There should always be a long-term vision for a specific position, level of responsibility, or ultimate goal he would like to achieve with his career. That may – and probably should – change over time. Just like a large organization, your priorities change. The economy shifts. New opportunities materialize. But you should always have a long term vision that drives you.
2) Develop a strategic plan
A CEO takes his corporate vision and crafts a strategy – a long-term road map – charting out how the organization will achieve its vision.
An individual should develop a similar strategic plan for her career. This plan is the professional roadmap. It should describe how she will achieve the vision, where she will need help and how she will obtain it.
This strategic plan should also list out any risks that could get in the way and how she will mitigate those risks to either keep them from occurring, or how to deal with them should they occur.
3) Acquire the right resources
A CEO must surround herself with capable people, business partners, and vendors. She needs individuals who can do their job and take ownership without excessive oversight and management by the CEO.
An individual should also surround himself with the appropriate resources to succeed. This can include a mentor or coach that will provide strategic advice to help advance his career. Additionally, the individual may need to turn to educators or learning materials to develop needed skills. Developing the right knowledge and skills will give an individual the right resources to grow in his career to reach his vision.
4) Create the right culture
A CEO is responsible for establishing the culture of the organization. The culture is the company’s personality. It refers to the standards, attitudes and shared values of the collective group of people within the organization.
Likewise, the individual should assess her personality, beliefs, and values that characterize her distinct individualism. She should use those attributes to develop her leadership skills. She should then match those qualities to the right position and organization that will ensure her success.
5) Drive tactical execution
A CEO will work with his team to break the strategy down to what the organization needs to do over the next year. This will pave the way for the rest of the organization to execute the strategy.
An individual will do the same with her own career strategy. On an annual basis she should determine what needs to be done for that year to achieve her strategic goals. She should then break that down into monthly goals, and then weekly goals. Every day at the end of the day, a daily to-do list represents the basic building block of each goal.
6) Solicit input from the board of directors
A CEO will turn to guidance from her board of directors. This is a group of individuals with extensive experience from within and outside of the organization’s industry. They will provide high level guidance and direction to their CEO. The CEO may sit on boards for other organizations, providing guidance to those CEOs.
An individual needs the same type of guidance. One way of doing that is to develop an advisory team of peers with diverse backgrounds. He can meet with a “master mind” group on a periodic basis, perhaps monthly, to discuss issues and challenges. They can brainstorm together, bounce ideas off of each other, and share lessons learned.
7) Be aware of the competitive landscape
A CEO needs to have a grasp of changes in the market, the organization’s customer base, her competitors, and new opportunities for the company.
Similarly, an individual should be aware of changes in the employment landscape, including new skills that may be required, opportunities in the job marketplace to advance his career, and trends in how work is done within his industry. Just as a CEO’s organization can be passed up by the competition, an individual can find his skills have become obsolete while companies seek out others with more advanced skills.
8) Evaluate the success of the organization
One of a CEO’s responsibilities is to measure the success the organization is making toward achieving its strategic goals, and make appropriate changes. He must take into account how the organization performs and how changes from outside forces have affected their success.
An individual needs to do the same thing. Every time you make a mistake, you need to reassess what you could have done differently and what changes you can make to avoid doing it again.
Is your current job taking you in the direction you want to go? If not, you may need to seek other opportunities, either within the organization or somewhere else. Has the market shifted or have you advanced to a level where you need additional knowledge? You may need to take classes, seek a mentor or self-teach yourself some new skills.
9) Demonstrate leadership
Everyone in the company looks to the CEO for leadership. He needs to demonstrate leadership skills and act as a role model to everyone else in the organization.
An individual has herself to look up to. She must develop leadership skills so that they become habitual. As her career progresses, those habits will turn her into a natural leader that others will look up to.
10) Ensure good public relations
The CEO of an organization must regularly monitor the corporate reputation. Every public activity from advertising to charitable events needs to be considered for how the public will perceive their actions.
An individual must be aware of her personal branding in the same way. She must think about it every time she updates status on social media, posts a blog, or makes a public appearance. She knows she may be tracked either personally, or more likely, on the internet by any potential employer or client.
The CEO of a major organization has many responsibilities to ensure growth and prosperity. An individual has the same responsibilities to her career to ensure that she continues to grow and prosper. Just as an organization can become indifferent and obsolete, an individual can find herself without direction or without the skills she needs to achieve her vision.
How do you manage your career?
As always, I welcome your comments and criticisms.
If you would like to learn more about working in consulting, get Lew’s book Consulting 101: 101 Tips for Success in Consulting at Amazon.com