New Grade ‘A’ offices at the corner of Temple Row, called St Philips Point in Chinatown, Birmingham, England – Photo Courtesy: Elliott Brown
While we all dream of the corner office, not everyone has the stuff to make it there. And there’s no shame in that. Being a top executive takes a certain amount of skill, finesse and political know-how. On money.usnews.com recently, an article stressed the importance of leading: “Do you like leading?” Management is about leading others. That means understanding how others work and inspiring them to do their best. It means working out schedules, tracking progress, and handling personality conflicts. It means finding out what motivates people on your team and what sets them back.
If the idea of standing in front of your team and giving direction gives you the heebie-jeebies, management may not be a good fit. There are many positions below top dog that can earn you a very nice lifestyle without the stress of being the ultimate answer man. Below are some of the qualities you need to make it to the top. See how they compare to your skills.
Of course, you need the appropriate skills for your chosen field. You’re the one that says yay or nay or you’d better know what you’re talking about. You need to be inculcated in every aspect of your business from the loading dock to the board room. The more you know about your business the more people will come to rely on you. Some top executives – the President for one – surround themselves with people to brief him on all aspects of his business, the government, but that’s not always possible for every businessperson today.
Finesse is one of those intangibles that some people are often born with. The ability to see the light at the end of the tunnel, the ability to see the best in a bad situation, the ability to let someone go and thank you at the end of the conversation. Finesse is truly a gift and while it can be learned, it’s not an easily acquired talent.
Office politics is without question the premier talent to possess when you’re trying to climb to the top. When to get involved, when to stay clear and how to manage not to get any mud on your shoes can make or end careers, so beware. If this is something you strive for, you’d best be a master of human behavior as well as the inner workings of your company and that includes who else is aiming for the same goal.
Per mindtools.com, “Office politics” are the strategies that people play to gain advantage, personally or for a cause they support. The term often has a negative connotation, in that it refers to strategies people use to seek advantage at the expense of others or the greater good. In this context, it often adversely affects the working environment and relationships within the workplace. Good “office politics”, on the other hand, help you fairly promote yourself and your cause, and is more often called networking and stakeholder management.
Rising to the Top
Getting to the corner office used to take talent, hard work and dedication – and it still does – but these days, it requires more. It requires all the skills and talents previously discussed. These days, it also takes connections. According to cnbc.com, of course, most people, most women, don’t succeed without someone taking a chance on them. Often, that risk taker is a man. Unfortunately, not everyone with the right skills set gets the interview. It often depends on who you know and who knows of you.
The moral here is to cultivate as many connections as you can and network for more connections as often as possible. While that may seem like a second job, you’ll soon realize that all the top people do it and not for nothing. They know that who they know is as important as what they know. Do a search for the cheapest online MBA and you’ll have taken the first step toward that corner office.
Karen Boyarsky is an avid blogger. You can follow her on Twitter @boyarskykareni.