I often hear executives say “I haven’t been give opportunities” or “I see opportunities going to others”. While I know it can sometimes feel this way, I always tell them that opportunities present themselves every day. They are often subtle and not simply dropped in your lap, but they are there. The only way to make the most of opportunities, however is to do some of the heavy lifting.
While this can be incredibly frustrating, all good things take effort on our part. We all want to push ourselves to advance, keep learning and face new challenges. Sometimes we don’t know how to get there. The good news is there are ways to take advantage of opportunities when you don’t think they are there.
Sometimes we are so busy working that we are blind to the opportunities around us. Be present and listen. Take time to chat with folks in the break room or in line at Starbucks. Take the time to notice what behaviors your company values and rewards. What type of person is promoted?
Once you starting having new conversations and you know what it takes to advance in your company, it’s time to put the work in to make it happen. Don’t assume your boss knows you’d like to move up into a leadership role. Make him or her aware that you want to work toward a higher-level position. Apply for the job-don’t wait for them to think of you. Map out a plan together that addresses the areas you need to improve or the additional skills you need to develop in order to advance.
Build a Network
Visibility is a huge component when it comes to advancement. You need to see and be seen. Building a strong network-both within your organization and outside-elevates your profile, allows people to see you in a new light and let’s others know you are open to new things. Your name needs to come up as a candidate when people are discussing filling a position. You want successful people from within and outside or your organization to think of you. Advancement may not come by moving up the ladder vertically. You may need to cross departments or organizations to achieve that growth.
Leaders don’t sit around waiting for things to change. They create the change they want to see. If your organization doesn’t have any women in leadership, spearhead a women’s leadership development program. If you keep getting passed over because you’re the only one who can fill your role, train someone else on how to do it while you seek mentorship from someone above you. Craft a clear value proposition for yourself. Tell others what you are looking to achieve. You will be surprised at the opportunities that come your way.
Creating opportunities is not about reinventing the wheel. It’s about steering the vehicle in the right direction. Decide where you’re going and figure out exactly how you’re going to get there!