Moving On Up: 5 Secrets From The C-Suite

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As we prepare for GovLoop’s first-ever State and Local Innovators Virtual Summit, we and the presenters are posting blogs about many of the sessions and some of the tips they will share. The summit is October 22nd and free for everyone — make sure to register here

We all take different paths to move up and advance our careers. Perhaps some of the things that have helped me move up can help you do the same. During GovLoop’s State and Local Innovators Virtual Summit, we will have a panel discussion of Secrets from the C Suite. Here are some of the secrets I will share, and a bit of background on them.

Think about your path. I  rose through the technical ranks. I was fortunate to be in a Fortune 500 high-growth company for 14 years, and I took advantage of every opportunity to move around within the IT department.  I had a total of 8 positions in 21 years before I got to the executive level.  I held jobs in virtually every technical discipline. Computer operator, support line, programmer, network engineer, project manager, and I managed people that did all those jobs too. I’ve been an “executive” for 13 years.
Key: Don’t stagnate. If you are doing exactly what you did last year, something is wrong.  

Always seek self-improvement opportunities. Dale Carnegie, Toast Masters, education, seminars, webinars, certifications,etc. Make sure you take advantage of all the opportunities you can. Sometimes the best self-improvement is just practicing what you know!  Make sure your boss knows you are part of these organizations, and that your participation is noted in your annual review process.
Key: Keep your skills fresh, keep growing, be able to point to where you stepped out and up to improve yourself. 

Be willing to change jobs. Interview for jobs that are posted externally for your organization. Be willing to leave your organization for a better fit someplace else. Don’t job hop, but rather stay long enough to show solid value. Always, always, always be able to show how you continued to grow and move up. This is a really important aspect of your resume, the interviews and your networking; being able to demonstrate how you moved up and accepted more responsibility.
Key: Don’t be afraid to take a lateral job with an organization that has more advancement opportunity.   Always know what your next job is going to be. Make sure your job history tells a good “story”  of moving up and gaining more responsibility.  

Focus on the critical skills of writing, presenting & speaking, and organizing. A little self-awareness goes a very long way, so be honest with your self about what you do need to improve. Some of the best advice I have ever been given has been in response to me asking “how do you think I did?”. Make sure you ask people who will be honest with you, and not just tell you what you want to hear. Communication skills are paramount if you want to move up in the organization. Practice them and sharpen them.
Key: Be realistic about your skills and ask for constructive and critical feedback. Never ever miss an opportunity to present or speak in front of a group.   

Know what kind of leader you are. If your organization provides a 360 degree feedback instrument, use it! Find out your Myers-Briggs type. Study leadership from the academic & professional angles. The most important thing is to know what you believe about leadership and be willing to tell people what you believe. If they believe the same things, they will follow you anywhere!  Don’t tell them your plan for success. Tell them what you believe. Watch the Simon Sinek “Golden Circle” TED talk in YouTube, and you will see what I mean.
Key: Know what you believe. Be consistent, and don’t miss an opportunity to discuss your beliefs.  

Secrets of the C Suite: Tips for Becoming a Senior Leader in Government will be held on October 22nd from 4:00-4:50PM ET. Other panelists include Ashley Hand, Chief Innovation Officer, City of Kansas City and James Honchar, Deputy Secretary for Human Resources and Management, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

Barry Condrey’s online training is part of GovLoop’s State and Local Innovators Virtual Summit, an all-day, virtual event with 6 different online trainings, networking opportunities and resources to help you do your job better. It takes place on October 22nd. You can see the schedule and register here for free. You can earn up to 6 CPEs by attending, so be sure to register! 

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