6 essentials for taking the helm as CEO of your career

Whether you aspire to your organization’s executive suite or you just want to focus on the work you excel at and love, try these steps for burnishing your brand and fulfilling your potential.

Perhaps you aspire to the corner office, or you want to develop leadership skills that will help advance your career. You can begin to learn what it takes to be CEO by becoming CEO of your own career.

As CEO, here are six responsibilities you must oversee as you lead the enterprise (the business of advancing your career).

1. Focus on your brand.

Yes, you have a brand, whether you realize it or not. To manage your brand, consider the following questions:

  • What is it that you could do better than anyone else on the planet? (That’s borrowed and paraphrased from Jim Collins’ book “Good to Great.”)
  • What is your purpose?
  • What are you values?
  • What gift do you provide to your colleagues? (That is, how do you help them achieve their goals?)

As CEO, you will want to understand these elements of your brand and focus your look, your message and your actions to reinforce them.

2. Determine your goals.

Good CEOs don’t operate with a vague set of goals hoping for opportunity to knock. They know that the right opportunities are more likely to appear when you’re pursuing defined goals.

To explore your goals, complete this statement: “It would be great if (what)…”

Then ask, “What else would be great?”

Try to generate 10 to 20 potential goal statements. Think big. Then for each statement ask, “Why would that be great?”

In reviewing your answers, you’ll see all your aspirations and the reasons why you want to achieve them. Pick the three to five most-compelling statements as your primary goals; then, determine what success looks like and how you will measure your progress.

3. Recruit a board of directors.

Whom will hold you accountable for achieving your goals? Who might help you solve problems and open doors? Who will provide needed encouragement?

Your board of directors might include a spouse, significant other or family members. It might be made up of industry experts and professionals from other fields. You might enlist a mentor or group of colleagues.

Meet with your board regularly to report progress, celebrate successes and work to overcome new obstacles that might have appeared since you last met.

4. Develop your strategies.

Take a look at your primary goals and ask, “What’s stopping me from achieving these things?” Now answer this question in the form of a question. For example, if your ability to reach a goal depends on your presentation skills and you are a frightened presenter, ask, “How can I become a better presenter?”

Then ask that same question in as many ways as possible: “How can I learn how to present?” “How can I get practice presenting?” “How can I get over my fear of presenting?” etc.

As you generate these problem queries, ideas for solving them begin to bubble up. Pick the most important statements to address, and consider them your strategies for achieving each goal. Then generate the ideas to solve those problem queries.

5. Hold yourself accountable.

Take all your ideas and assign a near-term, midterm or long-term date for each. Share this action plan with your board of directors so they can support your progress.

6. Keep your eyes on the prize.

As CEO, you must focus on changing conditions, as they could affect your long-term goals. Work with your board of directors to adapt short-term tactics to overcome new challenges and take advantage of new opportunities as they come.

As the CEO of your own career, you will gain invaluable leadership experience. Along the way, you will become more proactive in your personal advancement.

For those who are already career CEOs, you might want to encourage others in your organization to go through this exercise. This type of career development leads to a deeper engagement, which ultimately only makes your business stronger.

Dan Greenberger is a facilitator/trainer who helps organizations innovate and grow by applying creative principles to strategy, branding and other business activities. You can contact him at dan@gpscreative.com. He blogs at www.gpscreative.com.

Yosef Meged is a business and personal coach working with individuals, families and businesses. Meged lives in the United States and Israel. You can reach him at yosefmeged18@gmail.com. He blogs at yosefmeged.wordpress.com.

A version of this article first appeared on SmartBlog on Leadership.

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