The 8 Steps to Getting on the CEO’s Radar (in a Good Way!)
It’s widely understood that promotions come from above. Someone at the top must notice you in order to invite you to a higher place.
In the workplace environment, the person at the top could be your team leader, supervisor, immediate manager or even the CEO.
The person giving you the promotion matters. The higher he is, the better for you. Not only can there be no-one to challenge your progress, but there are also more benefits.
In your quest for career growth, who do you look to for approval?
Whereas it’s perfectly okay to look to your immediate manager, it’s a good thing to have higher ambitions.
For instance, you may be in the retail industry working as a cashier. Your desire and goal is to one day become the branch manager. In this case, if you look to your immediate manager—the current branch manager—how far will you go?
Unless your manager leaves and recommends you as the replacement, you may not achieve your goal.
GETTING ON THE CEO’s RADAR
This doesn’t mean that you start disrespecting your manager and telling him how you plan to overtake him. Wisdom is always key in everything.
Respect your manager and seek to make him look good through your hard work and the results. At the same time, try doing the kind of things which will get those above him to notice you.
These are the things we will discuss in this article.
Doing them will not only make your current manager look good, but will also get you noticed by the higher authority.
Being on the CEO’s radar screen will get you rising faster than you expected.
1. Be confident
First of all, the position of a CEO is that of leadership. You CEO most likely got there after having proved himself in certain ways. One of those proofs is in the area of confidence. And true confidence is attracted to fellow confidence.
Confidence is a big thing when it comes to being noticed by your CEO. He is looking for someone he can trust with carrying out difficult instructions and those lacking in confidence can’t do that.
To understand the role of confidence, think of a situation which requires action but then no-one is willing to take it.
Maybe handling the situation will mean offending some people. Maybe it means going against the grain, thus becoming unpopular.
Unfortunately, in choosing to take no action so as to avoid losing friends, means you’re not yet ready to go higher.
No matter how many followers they have on social media, real friends are few.
That is because these people were willing to make sacrifices. They decided to go higher and leave the masses at the bottom.
Going up means abandoning the normal, the accepted, the popular, the comfort zone and the easy. These sacrifices can only be made by those who believe in themselves.
They know that they have what it takes to live a good life even without some people. They understand that in order to get to that life, they must be willing to be forsaken because of their unpopular decisions. They therefore make the necessary decisions, put in the required effort and get going.
The CEO is looking for someone like that. Someone who isn’t afraid of making mistakes and being laughed at because he knows where he’s going. Someone who understands that the journey is tough, but is still willing to take it.
Such people are very easy to pick up even in a crowd.
Can you be that someone?
Take some time and read about developing self-confidence.
2. Work towards the big picture
If you desire to be noticed by the CEO, you must work towards the big picture. To do that, you must first of all know it.
What’s the big picture?
Yes, you’re working in the finance department. But is recording financial transactions and generating reports all you can do?
If working in the procurement department, is the relationship with suppliers all there is to build?
Get out of your comfort zone and find out what other departments do. If you stick only to what you’re employed to do, you’ll be too narrow-minded to cross the CEO’s mind as a serious candidate for top leadership.
Although the CEO may have specialized in management, that’s not all he knows. He is adequately conversant with matters finance, IT, inventory, marketing and everything his company does.
Because of that, he can be trusted to steer the company to higher profits. For the one only good in IT, he can only get to IT manager. If the company is very big, he might become the CIO.
You might be the person aiming for the CIO’s position.
But before you get there, you need to prove that you understand how IT relates with and affects other departments.
This understanding is what will show the CEO you can be trusted with more responsibilities.
To know the bigger picture, befriend colleagues in other departments.
However, don’t just leave it at that.
Let them know that you find their work interesting.
Not the kind of interesting that makes you want to change careers. No, the kind that means you would like there to be more partnership between your department and theirs.
Look for opportunities to have both teams work together. Communicate to your own manager what opportunities you see in the partnership.
If you know your manager to be insecure or negative, you don’t have to share the information. But upon being assigned some task requiring their input, mention the partnership. And give the other team the credit they deserve.
This way, you will have them on your side if it comes to a vote between you and someone else.
3. Show leadership capabilities
Confidence is a primary necessity in leadership because of the kind of decisions you’ll be making. But there are other things required too.
Some have confused between leadership and management. A leader is very different from a manager. We have covered this in more detail in our article about leadership and management.
Here are some of the things you need to do or at least learn about for you to develop leadership abilities.
- Be visionary – you cannot be a leader if you’re not visionary. The name leader means that you’re leading people. And if leading, then there is a journey and a destination. The question is, where are you leading those who are following you?
Being a visionary means that you have a vision.
Although by working in the company you’re subjecting yourself to its vision, you can also have your own vision.
Both for your personal career success and the company you’ll be working in if you’ll be leading it.
When you get sufficiently close to the CEO, you can share this vision.
If you get promoted to a higher office, you can work towards this vision as long as you align it with the overall company vision.
Being visionary means that you know where you’re going and can lead people there. Therefore, when given the opportunity, you’ll not waste time but will quickly get things rolling.
- Build others up – true leadership will always build others up. The key word here is “true.” When a person in authority doesn’t build others up, especially those under him, it could mean he’s insecure. He lacks confidence. He fears being dethroned from his position.
This kind of fear is not good for any work environment. The manager may use unethical means to keep people under his control in fear of losing power. This ultimately affects productivity and the whole company suffers. Though you can survive a toxic work environment, avoiding it is better.
- Handle different personalities well – people are different and uniquely so. But even then, there are great opportunities in knowing how to work with others. This first of all requires a positive attitude towards the differences exhibited by people.
If you’re confident in yourself and abilities, you’ll have no problem identifying and appreciating other people’s abilities.
For example, you’ll be able to see someone with a strong will as a potential leader other than a rebel. The person who is more quiet and thoughtful will come across as a potential negotiator and PR specialist.
When you show people that you appreciate them for who they are and are willing to work with them, you gain more approval. In their own lives, people will give you room to influence them since they believe that you have their interests at heart.
This is something the CEO can notice. It won’t be difficult for him to notice that people are listening to you and getting influenced by your great advice. That automatically reserves for you a seat of influence at the company.
- Be empathetic – empathy is a part of leadership. Empathy is the ability for you to identify or relate with someone else’s situation.
If someone tells you what they’re going through and you’re able to relate with them (not necessarily understanding them), then you’re empathetic. This is an important aspect of leadership because you can’t build others up if you can’t relate with their challenges.
If you don’t relate with someone’s challenges, then you can’t give them relevant advice.
You will also be too quick to give them your opinion even when all they need is for you to just listen to them.
This will create a disconnect and you won’t be able to lead them anywhere.
4. Take responsibility
You want to get on the CEO’s radar? You need to learn to take responsibility.
Take responsibility over the tasks and assignments you’ve been given. Take responsibility over mistakes you or your team makes. Simply put, don’t play the blame game.
Taking responsibility means that you take complete ownership of the projects under your name. Any assignments are to be handled with the full realization that failure is not an option.
That should not mean that you’re expected to be perfect. Neither does it mean you should be afraid of failing.
No. Failing is indeed part of learning. What this means is that you’re taking it upon yourself to ensure that you succeed.
There will be a lot of sacrifices made here.
You will have to go out of your way to ensure things work as they should because you understand that you are responsible.
Taking a look at the CEO’s role, there’s a big responsibility on him.
The reason he is paid more than other managers is because he carries the weight of the whole company.
When a department fails and the whole company fails as a result, publicly, the blame falls on the CEO.
CEOs will therefore work hard to get the right people around them because those people will help them carry the weight of the company. Though the CEO remains publicly accountable, he will be happier when he knows he has the right team to help him deliver.
If you manage to join this team, there are some good things which will come your way. You can expect a higher salary and some great benefits.
Obviously, the team has to be motivated enough and have their efforts recognized and valued.
Wouldn’t you like to be part of the CEO’s inner circle?
5. Take risks
Related to taking responsibility, you have to be a risk taker. The higher you go in leadership and towards achieving your goals, the more you need to take risks. And the risks are not just more in number but also in magnitude.
Taking risks shows your ability to step up and take responsibility.
You can do this by offering to help in risky assignments which others are afraid of being involved in. Show that you understand the risks involved and are willing to be part of the team.
Once in, ensure you give yourself to it. Remember the big picture you learned earlier? Have that in mind and see how this risky project adds to the overall company success.
Then, to get a genuine motivation to work hard in the project, connect your career objectives with the project’s goals.
In taking risks and being involved in risky projects, you’ll also learn and show your ability to handle stress. Stress is a part of top positions and the more ability you have in handling stress,t he better your chances of being elevated and staying elevated.
6. Fix problems
Another way of getting on the CEO’s radar is by fixing problems. And the good thing is that you don’t have to aim at fixing big problems. Just start small so you don’t get seen as being aggressive and too ambitious.
Starting small will also help you get your colleagues’ support. This is because solving problems at your team’s level helps them have an easier time. Their efficiency will improve and productivity increase.
Fixing problems means that you should take the initiative. Just because a problem has existed for many years doesn’t mean it should continue existing. When you notice a problem affecting your team, start by getting information about it.
Ask your colleagues who’ve been around for longer than you. Ask your manager if possible. Do your own analysis and come up with some suggestions. Share this with the team and show them how fixing the problem will benefit them.
If they agree on the suggested solution but don’t seem willing to put in the effort, just get started. Despite working alone, try your best to maintain a positive attitude towards the team.
Be jovial and encourage them daily to join you.
Always tell them how you believe the solution is possible and you see how the benefits will make the team better equipped for the tasks ahead.
After some time, hopefully, someone will join you. By the time the solution is fully implemented and results are evident, everyone will be seeing you differently.
7. Learn to communicate
You will also need to be good in communication if you’re to get on the CEO’s radar, there will have to be some communication going on.
Your thoughts and ideas have to be communicated. The solutions you propose will have to be given as a presentation in front of the CEO at one point in time. The project report you write will have to be in good grammar.
As long as you work on these things, the CEO will notice you even before you know it. But what will matter is how you act while before him. You don’t want to mess the opportunity you get.
Understand that the CEO is busy. As such, you have to know how to present information to busy executives.
Do not go into too much details about anything. Understand the details then make conclusions from them.
Present your findings in a way that shows you understand the situation. And when it comes to proposing your solution, make it actionable.
Set clear goals, break the process into steps and show who is to do what.
Remember that your aim is to show the CEO that you can make his work lighter. He needs to know that with you as a decision maker, the company will move forward faster.
8. Become an expert at something
Finally, here is a must if you want to make it to the CEO’s list of great team members. You need to become an expert at something.
Think about it.
When the CEO calls for an important meeting, who does he call? The whole company?
He may call the heads of the different departments in the company if he wants to communicate a strategic move. But if he wants to formulate the strategy, he will call a different group of people.
The departmental heads may be part of the team if they’ve proved themselves. If not, he will work with people who have expertise on specific matters. You can call these people experts. You can also refer to them as consultants.
Consultants are present in every industry.
These are known to understand the industry and can give advice where many are not able to. They have both theoretic knowledge and practical experience.
They set up private practices and charge for their advice.
If the CEO can have such a person coming from his company, it will be a joy for him. He will ensure you’re well taken care of since he cannot afford to lose you.
All you have to do to get there is decide what area to be an expert in. If you’re already on that career path, well and good. If not, make the necessary changes and start the journey.
Attend classes and offer to get involved in projects which will utilize the skills you have learned.
Do lots of research since you have to be updated on matters concerning your industry.
It will not be long before you get recognized for your efforts and get the reward you’re seeking.
Getting on the CEO’s radar is the fastest way to your career success.
Having said that, getting there in itself is not something that will happen in a day.
The best way to see it is as a journey. If you focus on it too much, you may fail because there will be no company interest in your efforts. Align your career goals with the company’s goals.
Then, when you work on the company’s goals, you’ll also be growing your career.
As you seek to make things happen at work, your efforts will be noticed and more responsibilities will come your way. Look at responsibilities as opportunities.
Handle them well and you’ll soon get an invitation to climb higher.
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