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Reach The Executive Level With These 17 Leadership Development Tips

Forbes Coaches Council

You've spent years as a middle manager, guiding your team's day-to-day operations and reporting their progress to your bosses and the executives. Now you're ready to join their ranks, and start getting involved in the bigger, long-term "strategy" work that's reserved for those in the C-suite.

But how do you get there? There are a lot fewer executive positions than mid-level management roles available, so it's a lot more competitive – and therefore, more difficult – to climb to this next rung of the corporate ladder. However, with the right attitude, work ethic and connections, you can prove your value and earn that coveted executive title and responsibility.

If you want to up your leadership to the executive level, follow these 17 tips from the Forbes Coaches Council.

Members of Forbes Coaches Council share the top ways to go from middle manager to executive.

1. Understand And Embody 'Executive Presence'

"Executive presence" is a multifaceted lens in which managers can view themselves and then be intentional about improving. It includes first impressions, interpersonal communication skills, body language, effective listening, effectively maneuvering through office politics and exuding authentic charisma. Technical skills might have landed the job, but executive presence moves a manager up. - Barbara OMalley, Exec Advance LLC

2. Establish Strategic Alliances

To lead at an executive level, it is important to first establish strategic alliances. Moving to an executive level will require gaining insight, awareness, and perspective about the organization's current and future challenges. One top recommendation is to find a mentor(s) who can help you gain personal and professional insight about being an executive in that organization. - Alan Trivedi, Trivedi Coaching & Consulting Group

3. Develop Your Strategic Thinking Skills

Lower levels of leadership focus on day-to-day execution of the strategy. To move into the executive level requires a mindset shift to exploring the future, becoming aware of the interconnectedness of systems and creating strategy that can be executed upon. This mindset development comes through diverse mentors, relationships with peers across and outside your organization and executive coaching. - Jenn Lofgren, Incito Executive & Leadership Development

4. Step Outside Your Comfort Zone

Network at all levels of the organization by adding value and respecting all. Step outside your sphere of expertise and understand all factors that go into running the business. Get knowledgeable about cross pollination within the organization. Start expanding your tribe outside your core area. Build your reputation to make it a no-brainer for the decision makers. - Gia Ganesh, Gia Ganesh Coaching

5. Work With A Leadership Development Coach

As professional athletes know well, a trusted coach can cut your learning curve dramatically. A coach who will guide you to clearly see your strengths, blind spots and competencies will also show you how to identify the people and roles that will enable you to thrive. Some coaches are focused on skill development, others are sounding boards. Find a coach who can do both and make the investment. - Shawn Kent Hayashi, The Professional Development Group LLC

6. Build Self-Awareness For Growth

Building greater self-awareness about one's leadership "presence" and effectiveness is a key piece to preparing for an executive level position. Participating in a 360-degree feedback process can uncover the leader's strengths to build upon, and identify others' perceptions of their leadership efficacy (and any disparities) to allow for growth and development. - Jen Roberts, Difference Consulting

7. Build Your Business Acumen

Begin to think more strategically and from a systems perspective. Learn how different components of your organization work together. Network with people from different parts of your organization in order to learn the different business functions or program areas. Develop more skill in seeing the interconnections between things as you lean into developing a broader view of the organization. - Monica Thakrar, MTI

8. Find Out What It Takes To Get There

If you have a clear goal for your career, let it be known. Ask your immediate supervisor to craft a skill plan for you on exactly what you need to do to get to the level you want. Then start executing. It will take a combination of building relationships, professional training, results you've achieved, and lots and lots of emotional intelligence. You're in it for the long game. - Sandi Leyva, Sandra L. Leyva Inc.

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