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Want A C-Suite Promotion? Nine Things Aspiring Execs Need To Do First

Many employees set out with dreams of climbing the company ladder and someday becoming part of the executive leadership team. But the journey to the C-suite is filled with obstacles that young professionals might not expect when they first start out. 

Below, nine Young Entrepreneur Council members shared their advice for aspiring business leaders looking to land that executive promotion. Follow their recommendations to give yourself the best chance at upward career movement.

1. Build Relationships With Those Above You

I used to have this ambition to be promoted to the C-suite of a major corporation. What I realized is it was less about hard work and how many awards you’ve gotten, and more about the relationships that you have built. People want to promote and bring those at this level who they trust and understand their work ethic. It is good to start building relationships with those that are one level to two levels above your position, which could include reaching out to get a mentor within the organization or offering to volunteer. Start by getting your name out there and being vocal as much as you can in meetings or taking on additional tasks for management. – Daniel Robbins, Metaverse Collective

2. Be Kind To Everyone

People are the greatest investment. If you aspire to be a C-suite executive in any organization, there is one common denominator—your relationships with people. So whatever position you are in, from intern to management, be kind to those around you. Contribute to their success, listen to them and always speak life into where they are at that particular time. I was raised on a fundamental principle that applies in this scenario: You never know where someone has been, you never know where they are going and you never know when you might meet up again—so make a friend out of everyone! The C-suite position you desire and the responsibilities that come with it will be simply navigated by the investment of empowering the people around you right now. – Kelly Cardenas, Kelly Cardenas

3. Hone Your Leadership Skills

If you want to earn a C-suite promotion, you must sharpen and express your leadership skills regularly. Being a C-suite professional is about more than the higher pay; it causes you to take control and manage stressful situations as the company relies on your decision making. You need to be able to think and react quickly for the best outcomes. Have you shown leadership qualities in your recent position? Failing to do so could mean that you need more time to get adjusted before your promotion. – Jared Atchison, WPForms

4. Assume An Ownership Mindset

An ownership mindset is a mindset you have to take from the very start of your career. Take a second to assume you own the company you work for, or that it’s part of you, like a baby project you’re passionate about. If that’s the case, how would you approach the job that has been assigned to you? Would you think differently when it comes to your approach to the job? A great model for being passionate about your organization is borrowing your habits from some other activity you’re passionate about. Sports? Movies? Music? How do you get to remember all the names of the players on your basketball team? How do you support them and know who should be traded in or out? That’s how you should think of your job. Your company is your team. You’ll figure the rest out from there on. – Samuel Thimothy, OneIMS

5. Evaluate Whether It’s The Right Move

Before getting promoted to a C-suite position, it’s important to evaluate if it’s the right move for you. Too many people dive into a promotion without fully understanding its roles and responsibilities. Yes, it comes with higher pay, but do you have the time and energy to fulfill your duties without feeling burned out? You can prepare yourself for the role by speaking to other C-suite professionals and gaining their insight. Their experiences and advice can help you figure out how you’ll fit in and what the adjustment will be like. – Stephanie Wells, Formidable Forms

6. Practice Situational Awareness

Look at how other people are being promoted. Do they share a common personality trait? What are their achievements and work habits? While you don’t want to compare yourself to other people, it’s okay to evaluate commonalities and gaps. For example, most companies value team players. Look at how well you’re socializing within the company. Do people look up to you? Do you help with team projects? Don’t be afraid to ask for feedback or a performance review. – Shu Saito, Fact Retriever

7. Take Your Focus Off The Promotion 

Stop making it about you. Work because you love what you do and not mainly because you want a promotion. Teach someone because you take pride in helping others and not because you’re finding ways to impress the boss. Don’t make it about you; do things from the heart without waiting for anything in return. This would also mean fewer expectations and more focus on doing things that will give you a feeling of self-fulfillment. With the kind of sincerity and passion you have, you’ll be rewarded (promoted) in no time. – Daisy Jing, Banish

8. Speak Up

Many C-level hopefuls believe that if they work hard they’ll get rewarded with a promotion automatically. But the surprising reality is that business owners who choose people for such roles need to hear directly from an employee that they’re interested in being a C-level executive. Many smart and hard-working people don’t get the position they deserve, and while your bosses should notice your contributions, you also need to speak up. Find appropriate ways to tell company stakeholders that you are interested in a promotion. Just a simple step like this along with showing ownership of your work will help you get the role you dream of. – Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner

9. Become An Expert Communicator

Making it to the C-suite isn’t easy, but it’s possible. My best advice to you is this: Master the art of communication. If you want to make it to a prominent role in your company, you have to show that you know how to communicate everything from the progress of your latest project to an issue you’re having with a tool or task. Spend time exchanging information with everyone around you, and do everything you can to retain and use what you learn in the future. – John Turner, SeedProd LLC

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