You’ve definitely heard me give this advice before: act like you are in the job you want, not the job you have.
And while most of you understand that this advice is one of the best shortcuts to success that you can take, you may be struggling to figure out how to actually make it happen.
That’s why I’m dedicating the rest of August to my three-part podcast series: Executive Ahead of Time.
In each episode of this series, I will be focusing on one of the core things corporate leaders need if they want to get (and keep) their next big promotion: Influence, Impact, and Energy.
So, if you want to have more influence and a bigger impact in your organization (starting TODAY) while ALSO having the energy you’ll need to sustain yourself over time, then make sure you tune into each episode of the Executive Ahead of Time series.
In this first episode of the series, I will show you the three areas you’ll need to master if you want to build more influence in your organization.
I'm offering a free Live webinar series on "4 Steps to Scale Yourself to the C-Suite (No Matter What)" If you want to develop the skills I teach you on my podcast so that you can finally get the recognition you deserve, sign up at stacymayer.com/csuite and learn how. There are limited spots, so don't hesitate to sign up.
What You'll Learn:
- The biggest mistakes corporate leaders make when it comes to cultivating influence at work
- Why you need to shift your focus from your “Circle of Concern” to your “Circle of Influence”
- How forming the wrong allies can seriously hinder your opportunities for a promotion
- Why understanding yourself is key to becoming an influencer in your organization (and how to do it)
- AND how you’ll know when you’re influencing tactics are paying off
Listen to the Full Episode:
Featured on the Show:
Hello everyone! Welcome to another episode of Maximize Your Career. I'm your host, Stacy Mayer.
Happy to be with you on this lovely day in August. I was actually looking at my calendar this week and I saw that I was supposed to be on vacation this week. Who knew? But because of shelter in place, that vacation had been canceled a long, long time ago.
And I think that whenever we do come up with a vaccine for coronavirus, I will probably never be home. I have spent more than enough time inside these four walls.
But I hope that you're all doing well and they you're all safe and happy with your families. And at the very least, I can give up a vacation every now and then to be safe. Right?
Before we get into today's episode, I want to give a shout out to one of my clients, as I often like to do. I like to celebrate their accomplishments and especially when they receive a promotion. So for the purposes of this podcast, we'll call my client Katrina.
So, Katrina actually took an interim position at her organization and this was a big stretch assignment for her. But with my coaching and my guidance, she decided to say yes to the interim position. It was way more people than she had managed before. It was way more responsibility. And it was a much higher profile project than she had taken on before. But she said yes to it.
It's been a huge growth curve for her. She's done amazing work. She has had to grow in so many different areas as a leader, and then the actual application process got really drawn out. It took a very long time for them to actually hire her for the role. It was super competitive, but she knocked it out of the park and she told me last week that she was actually offered the position. So super excited for her.
And I also want to use this as an opportunity to share with you one of the techniques that I offered to her in our coaching. So this is this is something that you can totally do tomorrow. And it's super useful. And I know that it played a big role in her actually being offered the position eventually.
So one of the things that I told her to do, because she was getting a lot of people coming up to her and saying how excited they were that she was doing this job. They were so excited for her. They were like: 'I hope that you get the role, and it's just really great to have you in this position.'.
And so I encouraged her to actually ask them why. Why they thought that? Why they thought she was so suited for that role? And I think at first Katrina was like: 'Are you sure? How does this work? So, they give me a compliment and then I just say, why? Why do you think that?'.
And I said, Yeah, actually, that's pretty much it.
And so she did it once and she was like: 'Oh, my gosh, Stacy, that was so easy and gave me so much information.'
So she asked someone when they said: 'We're really excited to have you in this role,' she said: 'Why? Why do you think I'm so suited for this role?' And they proceeded to tell her.
And I think she did this like three or four, maybe five other times, where she just kept asking: 'Why? Why do you think I'm qualified? Why do you think I'm suited for this role? Why do you think I'm having success at this role?' And then she just developed all of this, #1, confidence in her ability to actually do the role, and #2, she really understood what other people saw in her. So she actually used that in the interview process when she was actually applying for the permanent position.
So I know that is a huge part of the reason that they actually said yes to her and why she was able to have the confidence to take it across the finish line and actually land the job full time. So I'm super excited for her. Congratulations. And I wish all the best for her.
Now, on today's episode. So today's episode is actually one of three parts. This is a three part series that I'm doing for you in the month of August called Executive Ahead of Time.
You've heard me talk about this before: act like the executive leader now. Dress, figuratively dress, like the job you want, not the job that you have.
This is actually a really amazing shortcut to success. Let's say you're in a Director level position and you start acting like a Vice President before you're actually offered the job, then it'll make it even easier for them to give you the job eventually.
And I think the only challenge for people is they don't know exactly what to do differently. And so that's also what I share with you on this podcast.
So I've broken this series into three parts: Influence, Impact and Energy. These are the three episodes I'm going to be sharing with you over the next three weeks. This is what executives want in terms of getting a promotion. They want more influence at their organization. They want to be an influencer at their organization. They want to have a bigger impact. They want their work to actually matter. AND they want the energy to be able to sustain it over time. They don't want to all of a sudden get a promotion into a position and they're so stressed out all the time or taking a lot of time away from their family.
So these are the three biggest areas that I see leaders wanting and the reason that they want to be promoted into an executive leadership position. And I'm going to show you in these next three episodes how you can start doing that today. How you can be the Executive Ahead of Time and have the influence, have the impact, and have the energy to be successful at the job today.
So starting out, I want to talk about influence. That is the subject of today's episode.
So, you want to have more influence at your organization. It would be really great to have your boss actually ask for your opinion about something. I have a client who really wanted a seat at the table. She already had a seat at the table. She was in the executive leadership meetings, but her voice wasn't actually heard. And so her goal was to have more influence at her organization. And I remember at the moment that she actually knew that she had that influence was when her boss emailed her, her boss, being the CEO of the organization, emailed her and said: 'Hey, can I run something by you before I move forward on it?'.
And she was like: 'What?' That was unheard of. That would have never happened before. And it made her feel so good.
So that's what we want. We want to feel like we're making a difference. We want our work to actually matter.
And when we have more influence, when we feel like our voice is heard, it's also good for our organizations.
Salesforce did a report called "The Impact of Equality and Values Driven Business." Now, you guys know that a huge part of my mission and the reason that I work so hard to get powerhouse leaders promoted into senior executive positions is because I am on a mission to bring more diversity to the leadership table. And by giving corporate managers the tools necessary so that they can get themselves promoted into those senior executive positions so that they can have the confidence and the ability to succeed at the job once they get there.
So in this report, Salesforce found that employees who feel their voices heard are 4.6 times more likely to feel empowered to perform their best work. They went on to say today's collaboratively minded employee expects communication to be a two way street. So they want their CEO to call them or to email them and say: 'I want to run something by you.' You don't always want to be the person pitching the ideas. You want to be asked for your opinion. And the report also states that "ensuring that employees voices are heard needs to be part of a larger push for equality and inclusiveness in the workplace. Companies with greater gender and ethnic diversity consistently outperform the competition. They more accurately reflect the diversity of society and reach more potential customers. And they incorporate a broader range of perspectives into their decision making and strategy, inviting more people to the table and ensuring their voices are actually heard."
It is a win-win for everyone. So don't just think that wanting more influence at your organization is selfish. It's a win for the organization. They need you in a higher level executive position.
But a lot of people make the mistake. That influence is something that actually happens to you once you receive the promotion. But in fact, it's something that you as a leader can go out and get. It is something that you can create. You can create influence.
Many of you have probably heard about Gallup's StrengthsFinder. And all of my clients take this assessment as part of the coaching program. And there are four domains of strength. So we get 34 strengths. And you get your top five strengths in the middle there.But then there's these overarching domains. And one is strategic thinking. One is relationship building. One is influencing. And the final one is executing.
So, when we look at strengths and we're thinking of influencing as a strength, that means that it's actively something that you actually do. It's not something that you receive. So StrengthsFinder defines influencing, or people who have that strength of influencing, as people who take charge, people who speak up, and people who make sure others are heard.
So they bring up other people in the organization. And coincidentally, that's actually one of my top strengths is communication, which falls under the influencing domain. This is what I do. This is the work that I do is I teach people how to speak up, how to bring others voices out in the room, and how to take charge. So that's actively something that you go out and do. You learn how to influence other people. And what I teach specifically is through your communication strategies, how you're actually communicating is the way that you're going to learn how to influence people.
The other way that you can learn how to influence people is through your mind set. So you've probably heard of the seven habits of highly effective people. And Stephen Covey talks about this concept in his book. He describes it as the circle of influence. It's actually a technique that he describes. He says most people are preoccupied with their circle of concern. So your circle of concern are all of the things that are happening to you,. I have a bad boss, or this situation, or the culture at my organization, or nobody listens to me, or I'm working too hard. All of those things. That's your circle of concerns.
So, many people focus on all of the things that are going wrong and they try and fix those things in order to have success. And what Stephen Covey is saying is that: 'No. Focus on your circle of influence. And if you can expand your circle of influence, then you will have more success at your organization.'.
So you can look at this as first of all, it's a mindset. It's understanding that if we continue to focus on our concerns, those things that we cannot change, then we won't be able to have the influence at our organization that we actually want to have.
So basically, he describes how do you focus on where you can actually influence at your organization? So if it turns out that it's something that we create, that influence is something that we can go out and get, why do so many corporate leaders not do it? Why do so many people not do it?
And it's simple. It makes sense. So I already pointed to some of it, which is that we're focusing too much on what's happening to us, the circle of concern.
You also don't realize that it's within your control. You think: 'I will be more influential once I get to a Senior Executive Position? Now, the fact of the matter is that is actually true. You will have more influence and power once you get into those higher level positions. But there is a lot of influence and power you can have as you're continuing to move up the chain.
Another reason why people think that it's outside of their realm of control is that they're so busy. They're so focused on doing their job that they're not actually focused on: 'Who am I influencing? Where am I actually influencing, and where can I make the biggest impact on my organization?'.
And then the other reason why they might not be able to go out and get the influence or have the influence that they want at their organization, is that they're literally forming the wrong alliances.
How many of you are somebody who really focuses a lot of attention on your boss? Now, I'm sure you focus a lot of attention on your team and your projects and the things that you're working on, but, in general, most of the clients that I meet, their team really loves them. They're really good at their job. I'm going to assume that if you're in the position that you're in, that you're good at your job. If you have made it into a Director level position at your organization, you're good at what you do.
But, that still means that you have this boss ahead of you. And I bet you spend 90% of your attention on that boss. When we think in terms of our professional development and our opportunities for promotion at our organization, that boss is the right person to influence. If our boss likes us, then we'll get promoted.
But the problem with that thinking, is there's a lot of other influential people that will help you get to that next level. And if you're focusing on just one person, it's possible that person has very little influence. So it's possible you have the wrong alliance altogether. But it's also problematic because your boss can only do so much. If the other people on the executive team don't know your name and don't know what you're working on, then it's going to be very difficult to convince them that you can take on these more senior, more selective, higher-level Executive positions.
So those are the reasons that you may not have been going for influence so far. And now I'm going to show you what you can actually do to go out and gain that influence.
So the #1 thing that you can do to get more influence today, to start being the Executive Ahead of Time, is you're going to understand yourself. I want to make sure that you know yourself inside and out. I want you to know your leadership style. I want you to know what you're great at. And I want you to know what your challenges are.
I want you to know, literally, what makes you so darn special? Why do you get paid the big bucks? What is the value that you inherently bring to the organization? And I want you to take that outside of the realm of your subject matter expertise. Because for a lot of you, that subject matter expertise is the most obvious value that you bring your organization. I want you to start getting paid for your ideas and not just for the hours that you put in at work.
And so, for you to understand really, like really, what is the value that you're bringing to your organization, is such a huge, huge, huge thing to know.
We did a panel discussion. I used to work for a women's leadership organization out here in the Bay Area. And every couple of months we would host these Senior Executive panel discussions. And I'll never forget this woman. She was an Executive Vice President at her organization and she was a graduate from M.I.T. and she had a brag book.
So every time somebody said something about her, every time she had a major accomplishment, she actually collected it. I think it was a Google doc. But it was like essentially a brag book. She collected all of this information. It's so important to know. Just like my client who just got promoted as well. Why do people think you're so qualified for this job? Why do you think you're so qualified for a Senior Executive position? Just know yourself inside and out.
The second thing that you're actually going to do to go out and gain that influence now, is understand the needs of your organization on a higher executive level. And the best way that you can do that, because so many people say: 'But I don't know, I don't really know, I don't really know what they're working on' is to ask to be a fly on the wall. So asked to join meetings. Even if you're not going to be able to speak up. Ask your boss for more information. So what are you working on? What are your priorities? What are the biggest obstacles that you're facing? Schedule meetings with other members of the executive team. Ask them for more information.
Here's the thing. It helps them for them to be able to articulate this to you. And it also helps you to understand what their priorities are, what they're working on, what their goals are for this quarter, what they see getting in their way. And then, if you have advice during this conversation, you can also offer that advice. You can help them problem solve.
So understanding the needs of the organization inside and out, knowing what they're actually working on, what the actual obstacles are.
And then the third thing that you're going to do is you're going to know how what you do, what you have to offer, can actually benefit your organization. What makes you so darn special?
So many managers make the mistake of thinking that their tenure at their organization is actually a problem. I get a lot of people that feel stuck specifically because they've been at their organization for 10+ years and they feel like it's pigeonholed them into a specific thing.
But in reality, it makes you an expert at your organization. You know the organization inside and out. And the only reason that you feel pigeonholed is because you see yourself in a very specific way. And when you do step one, which is understanding your value, understanding your value as a leader, and not just because of the job that you do, you're going to start to be able to shape the way other people see you.
And that is a communication skill. That's actually what I teach through my 1:1 coaching program, is I teach my clients how to shape the way other people see them. So you're going to start to understand that. I also want you to get super duper good at recognizing obstacles, looking for the problem, looking for what could potentially go wrong, asking questions, asking bigger questions, asking higher level questions. 'Have you thought about this? What do you think about this?' Whatever that is, it's so important for you to be engaged and be a part of the conversation.
So if you want to become the Executive Ahead of Time, that's it. Those are the three areas to start going out and getting influence at your organization. Understand yourself, understand the needs of the organization and the senior executive team and what each of the individual leaders are working on, and know where the gaps are, know how what your knowledge, what your skill set could offer, could actually fill some of those gaps, anticipate obstacles and start articulating that to others. Start having these higher level conversations. You can do that right now. If you're a Senior Manager, if you're a Director, if you're a Vice President, if you're Senior Vice President, you can do all of those things today in your job.
And how will you know if you actually have the influence? Like my client who who got the email from her boss, that's a great way to know that you're actually making and having influence at your organization. That's one way, is that so that you're actually getting asked to weigh in on things. So people are actually asking for your opinion on something.
The second way you're going to know if you have it is if people start quoting you, right? So if they say: 'Oh, well, Sheila was working on this thing, and Sheila mentioned this, and she was actually driving this project.'.
So if you hear your name getting mentioned in especially in the leadership team meetings, but just on a regular basis.
Another way that you're going to know that you're finally getting the influence of your organization, is because you will actually enjoy the meetings that you're in. You will actually enjoy the projects that you're working on. Because you're going to feel like your work actually matters.
If you start doing this, if you start seeking out and creating more influence at your organization, I guarantee you, you will be a shoo-in for your next promotion. And at the very least, you will enjoy your job more, you'll have greater job satisfaction, and you'll be able to lift and influence others up in the process.
So go out there, find out how you can have more influence at your organization today. Thank you so much for listening. And I'll see you next week. Bye.
About Your Host
Hi, I’m Stacy Mayer, a Leadership Coach for emerging executives who are ready to take their career to the next level or seeking more fulfillment in their current organizational roles.
I help corporate managers reposition themselves to advance their careers, build confidence in their ability to solve problems in real-time, and step into their higher leadership potential so they can make a bigger impact in their organizations.