Executive Coaching Articles

Two Questions The Most Successful Ask

Are you maximizing your own potential? Every ambitious employee would love to have the magic formula for getting ahead. Keep reading, because we’re about to give it to you.

A few years ago, British author John Lees asked a number of managers, consultants, training specialists and business owners this question: “What’s the most effective way to get ahead?” The answers boiled down to two things: know who you are and know what your employer wants.

Employees who have a clear understanding of their employer’s needs as well as knowing how they are perceived personally are most likely to get promoted. Gaining self-awareness doesn’t come naturally to most people. It work, discipline and asking yourself some tough questions.

These two ought to be at the top of your list:

  1. Am I spending most (if not all) of my time on the things that matter most to my employer? Take a look at your schedule for this week. Would your department head or CEO agree with your priorities? If you’re uncertain, try this simple test: circle the items on your calendar that directly impact or have the potential to impact your company’s bottom line or strategic goals. According to Lees’ research, people with more circles on their calendars are more likely to get noticed — and people who get noticed get promoted.
  2. How am I actually perceived by the decision-makers in my organization? What will you say the next time you encounter a top executive? Will you talk about the latest movie blockbuster or mention how your team launched a new product or gained a competitive advantage in the marketplace? If your boss tosses you an unexpected question in staff meeting, will you get that deer-in-the-headlights look? Be prepared and use these rare opportunities to talk about the “circles” on your schedule.

Focusing on what’s most important requires you jettison or delegate the small stuff. You also may have to learn to say “no” to the never-ending list of time traps that suck up your valuable time. This includes eliminating communication overload and setting boundaries with your co-workers.

Successful people have a plan. Design your plan around what’s most important, both to you and your employer. Find ways to unleash your creative problem solving skills. Working with a leadership coach can help you cut to the chase and avoid costly missteps. Minimize or eliminate the rest and you will have the magic formula for getting ahead.