In today’s minisode, I want to help you move up by moving past. Fundamentally, your career is a journey. There are peaks, troughs, stalls, rises, plateaus and everything in between. And unless you have the tools to create your own destiny, then your career journey will be in someone else’s hands, you’ll become part of the 80% who don’t progress and you will get more and more frustrated.
The origins of Chief Maker
Back in the early days of my career, around 15 years ago and in my late twenties, I was an aspirational young leader in a really good position in a government role. I was giving it my all every single day. I'd turn up to work early, I'd get my ducks in a row, and all my meetings planned, and all my projects in order. At one stage I had about 12 people reporting to me, and it was a really full-on job for a young guy, but I enjoyed it. Then a number of things happened where I realised I didn't have the skill to do this job. I had a little bit of a disagreement between two people and my team and I had no idea what to do. It became stressful for everyone involved, and it wasn't good for my reputation.
That's when I realised I had been promoted to the level of my competence – or rather incompetence. I could feel that I wasn't performing any longer, and that's when I decided I was going to step out of a leadership position and actually go and study high performance psychology and re-educated myself, and then started working in the world of elite sport and individual excellence. And that was the very beginning of where Chief Maker came from.
Career journey map
What actually goes on in your career is that you go on a bit of a journey. You grow and you hit a peak, and then sometimes you have a bit of a trough after that, or you plateau, and then you go again. Now, what actually happens for most people is they improve their job, they go up through the levels, but then they hit a peak and maybe a plateau, and only about 20% get promoted.
If you look at a career journey map in the image below, it will really help clarify for you what has been going on in your career, why maybe you have been promoted so far, and absolutely why, if you are starting to hit a career stall, why you are stalled.
The map shows that you go up on this nice trajectory initially during your first seven years of your career. You’re probably in a 100% technical role, hands-on doing the job. At about the seven year mark most people, based on research, get a promotion. And only about 20% of people make it out of those roles into a managerial position globally. That's all!
And then, if you're doing a really good job there, after five to nine years, you get promoted again into a general manager role. Now, we know that only 20% of the pool become managers (which is only 4% of the total population), so it's immediately way more competitive. It has a broader level of information and detail you have to be across.
If you do a great job there, after about seven years, you get promoted to the C-suite. And again, this is about 20% of that pool, so therefore, less than 1% of people make it all the way to the C-suite. And then finally, only about 20% of those people that make the C-suite make it to a CEO role. So, it is a very low percentage of people.
The main reasons for career stalls
You might love the level that you're at and that is fantastic. That to me is being a great chief as you have identified the level that you want to be at and you can absolutely nail it. You may also have a desire to go one level more, but you find yourself really starting to struggle to stand out, to attract opportunities magnetically that earlier in your career, when the competition wasn't so fierce, was a little bit easier.
The fact is, every level you go up you are then playing against the best of the best. That is who you have to deliver even better value than before. Based on all of the research we've been doing for 15 years, talking to hundreds of companies, thousands of executives, the top reasons why people were stalling or hitting troughs were because they were missing most or all of these five things:
- Game Plan
- Track Record
It’s what we call our GREAT method to career success.
Getting past the stalls
1. Game Plan
If you've been a manager for a number of years, and you realise that other people are being promoted in front of you, have you stopped to consider the following?
- “Am I treating my boss as my number one customer?
- “Am I looking at myself as a professional services firm of one that delivers extreme value to the organisation and my boss?”
If the answers are no, then you might not have the right role fit, or you don't have the correct skills in order to do that job.
Career game plan is about aligning your personal vision, your values, your purpose with a role trajectory that makes sense for you. It's about adding your unique value proposition so that you magnetically attract opportunities as a leader, as an executive, as a true chief. When you are doing a job that aligns to these things, I guarantee you that you're more likely to get promoted faster.
Your rhythm and your discipline will help set yourself up every day to lead your team on a weekly, monthly, quarterly, annual basis. You need to define your routines as they will help you to stay focused, and importantly, recover from your efforts. Also worth noting is that both your game plan and routines change every time you get promoted or land a new job.
This is your network of peers, senior executives, direct reports, external trusted advisors, customers, suppliers, and of course, home. This is right in the middle of the GREAT method because it's like a keystone. If we don't get that right, it's high stress and high drama. This is where we build trust because business is a people game.
These are the skills, the experience, the education that you need to nail the job right now, but then more importantly, it’s what you take with you on your career journey.
5. Track record
As a result of building your assets, you can build a bulletproof track record of results that does not leave a trail of destruction and people wondering who that was that turned up and destroyed their business.
Getting promoted faster – and the path to happiness
Chief, if your career journey has hit a plateau, ask yourself these questions:
- In my current role, have I got the right career game plan?
- Am I aligned to the role?
- Is my unique value coming out?
- Am I playing to my strengths?
- Am I motivated day in, day out?
- Do I have the right routines and rhythm to stay focused, continuously improve, and recover?
- Do I have a good network of trusting people around me that are backing me in?
- Am I connected to senior executives and other quality people outside the organisation that you can solve problems with together?
- Have I got the right skills, knowledge, experience to complete with absolute excellence?
- Am I building a track record in this role right now?
If you can answer yes to the above, you will get promoted faster and reduce that seven year process each time because whenever there's a trough, you can jump it rather than sliding back down.
If you hit a career stall, then go back to this method. It will tell you where to focus next so that you can improve your chances and actually start to love your job. And the research is bulletproof on this, it shows us that when you're in love with your job, the people you live with – and who even report to you – are 80% more likely to be thriving as well.