You made all the right moves so far in your retail career. You recently got promoted to manger but you’ve always had your eye on an executive post. In Your career: from management to retail executive, SA Retail Careers Atlas defines four pathways to the executive suite: focusing on a specialty, traditional rise through the ranks, company hopping, and entrepreneurship. All will require you to make some preliminary moves and position yourself for this key promotion.
Hone Your Communication Skills
Your communication skills at the basic level got you the promotion to management, now you need to step things up a notch and groom yourself with some executive communication skills. For this, you might seek the advice of a speech consultant. Melanie Novis, President of Corporate Speech Consultants (CSC) can help you develop a self-assured, personal style that's professional and dynamic. CSC offers one-on-one coaching, and the time and money spent in perfecting your speaking skills will be well worth it.
Enhance Your Leadership Skills
You were a capable leader on the shop floor, which is why you rose to management. But the same rule applies to leadership at the executive level. You'll need some very specific talents and training. One place to develop the skills you need is UC Berkeley’s Center for Executive Leadership. They offer everything from High Impact Leadership Programs to a Women’s Executive Leadership Program. Similar graduate level programs are offered at colleges and universities nationwide. You can also sign up for the American Management Association’s Advanced Executive Leadership Program, an intensive three-day leadership-training event that includes valuable insights from senior managers.
Seek Out a Mentor
You’ll need a mentor from the top brass ranks to guide you to your executive post. As you may have discovered in your rise to management, there are always certain high visibility tasks that, if done well, can catapult your rise by getting the attention of senior executives and CEOs. Your mentor can help connect you with the right assignments and people that will make you shine. He or she can also move you around the political landmines that can potentially flatten or nosedive your upward career trajectory. The best place to meet a mentor is at corporate functions—parties, retreats, seminars, and conferences. Some firms even have mentor programs.
Be a Visionary
This is a bit hard to get you head around. The key here is to be creative in executing your present tasks as manager. Try to think out of the box when solving a problem. You don’t want to be seen as just a “technician” who performs the perfunctory tasks day in and day out. Do some snooping to find out where problems exist, bottlenecks impede flow, and sales have dropped off. Zero in on one problem and develop a creative solution. Then present your solution effectively, by applying what you learned from your corporate speech consultant.
Reaching for that executive brass ring in your retail career? Start the grooming process now.
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