Developing your Leadership Strategy
Oftentimes, aspiring leaders are said to be ambitious and driven – true! But more than anything I think leaders are simply able to identify opportunities, position themselves and play to their strengths.
“Your most important sale in life is to sell yourself to yourself.” – Maxwell Maltz
It is challenging to actively promote yourself because of the fear of being perceived as arrogant, but in an interconnected world, I do not think that you should be wary of doing it. If your self -sales pitch is backed by verifiable data; experience and achievements, why fear? You have earned the right to promote yourself. Most importantly, note that selling yourself is a necessary tool for career growth.
At C-suit level, it is not enough to assume landing the ideal leadership position is constitutive of your acquired experience and skills. Creating opportunities, networking and in some instance, interviews communicate information about you as a worker, in other words; representations of you as a product- not the product itself. So how you represent your experience, personality, and work ethic is really important, it is what gets you your executive role.
In developing a business plan, we carry out an extentive analysis – market research, product analysis, benchmarking, consumer/target analysis, and other relevant surveys. The outcome of these studies basically informs on the viability of a product or service through identification of target needs and wants, communicating of desirable outcomes and then developing a marketing strategy.
Similarily, it is important to carry out an analysis of your hard and soft skills, your track record, your achievements, and your capabilities going forward. Armed with this information, develop your unique selling points and start marketing yourself. As earlier mentioned, allowing yourself to be daunted by the fear of self-promotion as a vain and arrogant trait is self-defeating. Remember that no one can sell you as well as you can sell yourself – think of what a hiring manager’s thoughts are listening to your compelling sales pitch; “knows his/her stuff”, “confident”, “great representative for our brand”, “good communicator” ……
Oftentimes, your CV tells your prospective employer much of your hard skills but what you communicate when selling yourself are those skills that are not easily verifiable on paper- stakeholder management, change management, work ethic, communication skills, adaptability, confidence, problem solving and critical observation to mention but a few. It’s your responsibility to take any opportunity to make others sit up and notice your work and skill set. You are your own Director of Marketing.
Note that in the business of selling yourself, NEVER make the mistake of misrepresenting yourself. Credibility at executive level positions is key to your reputation!
From a careful analysis of your career progression, you will be amazed at your past achievements. Develop a value proposition based on your experience and skills and ask hard questions of yourself – What do you do best? Who can you best serve? Look at a SWOT analysis of yourself. What makes you different? Based on the outcome of this analysis, you can get a better sense of who you are, what you have to offer and who you can serve. Create a value proposition that is compelling and helps you stand out amongst your peers. It’s also important to back up your reputation with results from your past work and projects. If you can prove your abilities and not just talk about them, you will be much more effective at persuading people to take notice.
As we approach the new year and you look back at your career in the last year and the desired progression for the coming year and beyond, start by building a case study into any project that you have been involved in so as to leverage on them as part of your marketing pitch.
Finally, as you begin to identify opportunities, build and leverage on your networks and promote and sell yourself. It is important to note that one of the key stakeholders that you have in your network; to conscript into your marketing plan is the Executive Search Consultant. They are in the unique position of having first-hand experience with their client – your prospective employer, they have access to a wide network of professionals, industry knowledge and most importantly, they are willing to listen to you; and how you sell yourself to the head-hunter is key to how he/she sells you to the client.
At InterSearch Ireland and within the InterSearch Worldwide network, we work diligently to ensure that we attract the best talents for our clients anywhere in the world. We do this by going way beyond ticking job specification boxes. We pay attention to the mutually beneficial traits between candidates and clients to make for seamless fits.
Read Part 1 and Part 2 of Clementina’s article HERE.