The path used to be quite singular and regular: with a bachelor’s degree, you get into a particular company or a specific industry, spend at least three years climbing the corporate ladder, exit the stage for two years to pursue an elite MBA degree in a prestigious university, stay in a consultancy for another two or three, and pick a leading player in a promising industry and join its senior management team as an admirable executive. However, this typical roadmap that many corporate executives once have followed may not be applicable in the current era. Comparatively speaking, for individuals who dream to become executives, there are more difficulties; for some, of course more opportunities come along as well.
Over the past few decades, under the massive impact of dazzling technologies, the world is getting more and more globalized and complicated. Businesses around the globe are more interconnected, either collaboratively or competitively. Such an environment requires executives who are actually running companies to be more goal-driven, savvy, ardent, prudent and socially responsible than ever before. Those who only make aspirational speeches to curry favor with the crowd or managing a narrow circle of interpersonal network may not grow the company to sustain competitions and challenges.
At RGF Professional Recruitment China, observing what organizations really need when they hire executives is part of our duty. Based on forefront experience, we have summarized some crucial and implementable strategies that many wannabe executive may ignore - if you envisage yourself to work in high management in a few years, or if you are already on your way to earn an executive title, they can be useful or at least used as a reminder.
Value grassroots work
Executive is a top role, however the path to it often start from grassroots. If we look to well-known business leaders, regardless of their relative industries, basically every single one of them has done a great amount of grassroots work of all sorts. If you aim to be an executive, pay attention to how rudimental stuffs are done within your organization, or even shoulder some hands-on jobs yourself. Don’t neglect it because it seems too basic and not worth your effort. A small beginning may translate to an impactful opportunity. Grassroots work can provide you with a different set of lens to review how business is being run, how frontline staff deal with daily operational tasks, what causes trouble and hinders working efficiency…These discoveries from routine practices keep you grounded and offer you adequate empirical evidence to come up with solutions and strategies for improvement. Adopt a ground-up approach to win big.
Make your bold move
Climbing the corporate ladder is necessary and even unavoidable, but it doesn’t have to be the right method if you set up your mind to become an executive. What’s more important in top business leaders than being promoted based on the prescribed levels, is the courage to make a bold move. A bold and rewarding move, not a reckless and hasty one that may concern some of you. It can be quitting your job to pursue an MBA, leaving the corporate world for a key role in a startup, or even start your own business. An MBA degree still weighs a lot, because business schools can equip you with so many global perspectives and guide you to perceive the business world via formal education. In comparison, joining a startup or start your own business is similar to throwing yourself into a pool of sheer and real entrepreneurial challenges. You will get involved in numerous aspects of the business and learn from your own decisions. Whether it is going back to campus or embarking on an entrepreneurial journey, it will be very beneficial if you decide to be hired again one day, as an executive.
Develop a global vision
Digitalization has changed everything, and the world is becoming one big community. This inexorable trend requires every business practitioner to embrace the world as a whole. Narrow-mindedness and protectionism aren’t leading anywhere. Executives in the modern times must hold a global vision - he or she should get in touch with different cultures and diversified mindsets, and stay open to international assets, both business wise and talent wise. A global vision lays the foundation for executives to craft opportunities that utilize their and their team’s unique skills, bring up novel business models and systems that can thrive on emerging uncertainties, and leverage networks and resources around the world. Build yourself up as an open-minded crusader, not a conservative.
Stick to a social mission
For exceptional executives, shareholders and profit tables aren’t their only priorities. Apart from delivering corporate-oriented results, they start to realize the importance of a fundamental commitment to all the stakeholders out there. From the perspective of executives, serving a social mission confirms the very fact that any company belongs to a broader community and society, and initiating specific programs for a social mission is simply engaging, empowering and significant. More pragmatically, it helps to improve brand image and add personal reputation. If you have a goal of becoming executive, you may start to prepare yourself for associating the company that you work for to a proper social mission: What kind of social mission is suitable for your company, be it environmental protection, or gender equality, for instance? How would you make the mission a part of the company’s business? How would you engage the employees with the mission? What contributions would you make yourself? Remember that non-involvement isn’t a successful strategy, especially when it comes to essential social issues. As a promising executive, you should take the lead and support social development.
Becoming executives is a hard and broad topic. As we understand that basically not all the competent executive candidates share the same backgrounds and expectations, we are more than happy to provide personalized consulting sessions and offer our insights of the executive hiring process.
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