An executive recently complained to the superior of a fellow executive in the same company that Bob, not his real name, was often insubordinate, sat on people’s desks, flexed his muscles, and was a know-it-all. Bob’s boss replied, “Bob’s OK, he’s just weird.” The executive, a client of mine, relaying this story to me felt confused because she saw this person as being condescending, but yet couldn’t understand why she felt that way and so blamed herself. When I asked this executive if she would let her son speak to her that way, she replied, “Good grief, no!” Why is this situation any different?
It just so happens that my client has her eyes on the CEO position when the current CEO retires in a few years. If Bob’s behavior is allowed to continue, do you think he will stop just because this person is now the CEO? Bob will take great pride in his ability to talk to such a superior in this manner, belittle the now CEO, behind her back of course, and generally help lace the organization’s culture with this condescending behavior company wide. The behavior now becomes accepted and the norm. What’s a budding CEO to do?
Those on executive teams often have goals and ambitions to be the CEO of the organization. You may be such an individual. Once a speaker colleague was trying to decide what to speak about to a group. She made this comment, “I don’t know if these people even have dreams.” My head spun around about 3600. What? Everyone has dreams. But even some executives will sell their own teammates short thinking that they are the only one on the team with the CEO dream. Nothing could be further from the truth. This is dangerous territory. Why?
When considering that you are the only one with ambitious goals, you may well have slumped into complacency not to mention being a bone head. Sorry, it had to be said. This type of thinking tells me that both you and my colleague have no empathy for or are not reading the pulse of others, even the ones on your own team. Everyone has dreams of some sort. Maybe they aren’t the dream of becoming a CEO, but they may want to use their position to obtain other dreams. If you find yourself with these types of thoughts, here are some ideas to help get you back on track.
Executives, like everyone else, struggle with career decisions, paths, and strategies. Just because you’re on the executive team or that you report directly to the CEO, doesn’t mean that your CEO is aware of all your talents, has a vision of your capabilities and what you can achieve for the future of the organization, or that he or she is even vaguely aware of your career goals and how they fit with the organization’s strategic plan. So where does that leave you?
It leaves you in control. One of the research sources for this article suggests that career management used to be in the hands of the organization. I disagree. You are the one who must always take responsibility for the path of your own career. Just as good management requires strategic planning for the long-term future and the investment of time and resources, so does career planning. Resting on your laurels or being comfortable or thinking that you have arrived all ring the death knell for a successful career.
As we climb the corporate ladder, we have much more at stake in our careers. Executives, in particular, play a high stakes game every day when it comes to career management. It is common knowledge that the more we earn, and the higher up we are on the ladder, the longer it takes to find a job when, for whatever reason, we are out of one.
Our ears often ring with “Always keep your resume up to date.” The winds of change can blow us and our careers in different directions. We can also hear that, “During change, no one’s job is safe.” This is a strong concern in the cases of mergers and acquisitions (M&A). Therefore, keeping your resume up to day during M&As becomes imperative. Do we do it? Not a chance. Take heart, an M&A doesn’t always mean a job loss and there are ways to prepare better and even, in some cases, take control. Let’s look at some scenarios and options.