Investing in yourself and developing a career strategy might not be top of everyone’s agenda at the moment but, nevertheless, is an extremely valuable way for senior executives to spend any downtime during the unprecedented events we face because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Day-to-day operations often leave little time to take a step back and consider where you are in your career, where you want to be and the impact of rapid change on industries and skillset requirements. But now is the time to consider these issues or risk being left behind.
Even if you feel secure and fulfilled in your current role and organisation, it is still a worthwhile exercise to evaluate current skillsets and assess how up-to-date and relevant they are. This is especially true for today’s fast-moving and ever-changing market requirements, which will undoubtedly see even more rapid change as we come through the aftermath of COVID-19. It will also help to ensure you are equipped with the essential skills to progress to your next role, whether it is moving up internally or to another organisation.
Some of the areas to focus on include:
Build your personal digital brand: whether we are aware of it or not, we all have a personal brand. Use the online environment to raise your profile and bolster your reputation in your sector or industry. Move towards becoming a thought leader or expert by writing relevant blogs for your Linkedin account and relevant business publication websites. Share expertise, knowledge and creative thinking and ideas with others. Also find out whether there is scope to post bylined articles on your organisation’s site?
Networking: it is a good time to connect with people to see how they are faring including useful contacts that you might not have had time to hook up with. Also, work out your target ecosystems and key individuals with whom you can share valuable insights. Be mindful that networking is a two-way street and the benefits need to be reciprocal: remember to give first before you expect to receive.
Skills development: identify any skills gaps you have as a leader and put a development plan in place to address these to stay relevant. Tools such as the Rialto Accelerated Leadership Index (RALI) can help you benchmark your leadership capabilities against your peers across a range of sectors. This is an ideal time to invest in your knowledge of technology and digital initiatives that might impact your industry/function. Learn about and brainstorm what your industry/function will look like post COVID-19. Where can you and will you be expected to provide value?
Improving mental toughness and resilience: the COVID-19 operating environment is going to require us to work in different ways with our peers and teams and deal with further unpredictability and volatility. Leaders will find themselves under pressure on both a business and personal level and will need to able to deal with individual, team, family and market stresses. It is crucial to understand your own trigger points when dealing with these multiple areas. Put in place the right sounding boards such as trusted individuals with whom you can share views and responsibilities on all fronts.
Practice positive thinking: consider how you deal with negative situations and failure and how your reactions could be reframed and learn to keep things in perspective. While much of a leader’s work will be about acting in the moment, it is important to project forward to when the crisis is over and what yet another new normal might look like and what part you and other teams members may wish to play. It will get tougher before it gets better so strong, authentic leadership is required as employees will be feeling vulnerable on a number of levels. It is also important for leaders to show they are part of the team as this really is a case where everyone is in it together.
If you need help creating a strategic plan to implement any of the above or feel you might benefit from having a neutral sounding board to discuss your career strategy during the challenges arising from COVID 19, call to speak to a member of the executive career strategy team.