No-one is immune from the rapid changes taking place in the world of business. The relentless pace of automation and rise of artificial intelligence mean we could all experience a radical altering of roles over the coming years, even those in senior leadership positions.
Added to this, many businesses around the world will continue to operate in a period of political and economic uncertainty. Resilient leaders have shown that they can adapt and react to the VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex and unpredictable) environment but it will continue to pose a major challenge. While it may be a rather tired acronym these days, VUCA still remains relevant.
The key to ensuring employability as a senior leader is much to do with self-awareness and continually evaluating skillsets to ensure you have plenty to offer your existing or other organisations. Leaders who remain in their comfort zone and shy away from new challenges risk letting their skills stagnate and will quickly lose market value.
Here are five ways to help remain in-demand at senior level:
Continual focus on skillsets
Senior leaders typically have little time to step back and consider whether their skillset is still relevant to the current market. Arrogance can also seep in when you’ve been a senior leader for some time which can lead individuals to wrongly assume they have the required skills and capabilities to ensure they are still in demand. But the changing business landscape means that leadership skillsets are evolving.
A study carried out by Rialto Consultancy found that almost two thirds (64 per cent) of leaders in large organisations said they do not have a sense of how their capabilities and experience compare to leaders of a similar level outside their organisation. This compares with less than three-fifths (57 per cent) of leaders in small organisations. It is important, therefore, to regularly carry out a skills and capabilities benchmarking exercise using tools such as the Rialto Accelerated Leadership Index (ralionline.com) to discover how you compare with others. Also assess how you fare in terms of capabilities such as agility, resilience, critical thinking and managing business transformation which are currently in-demand. Leaders need to be acutely aware at all times of how aligned their skills are to current and future markets.
Reinvest in yourself
Any leader worth their salt would never leave the organisation to stagnate without investment but some can be accused of doing this with their own careers. While the on-the-job experience you’ve gained as a leader over the past five years is invaluable, it may not have equipped you with all of the capabilities required to remain employable as a leader for the remainder of your career. Armed with the findings from the above assessment, explore which training and development intervention might help you to address any skills gaps or shortcomings. This could be coaching, hooking up with a mentor or enrolling on a formal training programme. The important thing is to adopt a continuous learning mindset no matter what stage of your career you are at. Such a mindset is even more important because of the pace of technology and the impact it is having on organisations.
Broaden your experience
Being an effective leader today isn’t only about undertaking the day-to-day but having in-depth market awareness and knowledge of current trends, technological and other developments. Take every opportunity to broaden your horizons and thinking and expose yourself to new experiences. This could be by getting out more to briefings, seminars and other events or even speaking at them, undertaking site visits and going on fact-finding missions. And keep up-to- date with developments in your sector or the world of leadership through magazines, journals, newspapers and online resources. It demands effort and time which can be a juggle with daily commitments. But it will help you to identify the leadership challenges of your sector/industry and help spot both threats and opportunities to the organisation and your own career. This will not only make you a better leader but make you more marketable.
Get on the radar
A rock-solid reputation and a strong personal brand will ensure you remain on a headhunter’s radar. Assess how you are perceived and put together a plan to raise your standing in the market if you feel it needs improving. For instance, when did you last consider what your unique selling points are? What skills, capabilities and behaviours mark you out from the pack? Build your brand by putting yourself forward for speaking engagements and offer thought leadership and opinion pieces for publications relevant to your sector to build your personal brand. These don’t have to be major events but even small-scale workshops, seminars or breakfast briefings will help to establish you in your sector.
Be open to bold moves
One of the keys to remaining employable is having a mind open to new experiences and positions. It may not be possible to remain in the sector you’ve always worked in or, maybe after years after working for a major corporate, heading up a SME could prove to be a rewarding move. For instance, there are a large number of technology start-ups that would benefit from an injection of senior leadership experience. Such a move would also enable you to gain valuable experience in the growing tech sector and expose you to new business models and ways of working that are changing how organisations of all sizes operate. Also, don’t rule out a cross-functional or sideways move at senior level that might widen your skillset and better position you for a managing director or chief executive position in a year’s time. It may also be the right time to take up a non-executive director position that would broaden your experience and add to your market value.
Rialto Consultancy delivers a range of career transition, leadership development and coaching programmes for executives and senior leaders. For more information, please call 020 3043 8645 or go to https://www.rialtoconsultancy.com/contact/ to fill out the contact form.