Where You Need To Focus If You Want To Get To A Senior Level In Your Career

I work with accountants and professionals.

One thing I know about this group is that many of them are ambitious.

They work hard to get their qualifications.

They work hard for their organisations.

They hope that this will lead to promotions and reaching a senior level in their profession.

There is a problem however.

The further you move up the career ladder, the more you move away from what you are really good at.

It’s no longer just about your technical abilities.

In all honesty, you reach a point where your technical abilities are taken for granted.

Many are often surprised just how quickly after qualification this becomes the case.

Does that mean that you no longer need to stay up to date technically?

Of course not.

Equally if you are looking to get to a senior level depth in one or two areas isn’t going to help.

You really want to have depth in your professional field and breadth over a wider range of areas.

So what in my view do you need to focus on if you want to get to a senior level in your career?

Understanding business

For me that’s much more than just understanding your organisation.  It’s about understanding business much more widely.

The issues, the challenges, the opportunities.

The bridges to success and the obstacles that hold businesses back.

People Skills

These rather oddly are referred to as soft skills.

While they are not anywhere near to being as complex as your technical skills they are not easy to master.

Few have really done much in understanding human behaviour.

Why people tend to react in certain ways to events.

What helps and hinders influencing and persuading when trying to make change.

Contributing and adding value

Every job has responsibilities.

Every job has a person specification giving a picture of the ideal person.

As you move to more senior levels, there are hidden questions in the mind of those making the hiring decision.

These include:

What will this person bring to the team and organisation of they get the job?

What evidence is there of them making a real contribution to success and adding value, beyond the boundaries of their role?

In each of your roles you don’t just want to be focusing on doing the job, but proactively looking for ways in which you can contribute and add value.

In reality getting to a senior level is never guaranteed.  At the same time where you focus your development really can make a difference to your chances of success.

About the Author Duncan Brodie

Since 2006 I’ve worked with in excess of 8,000 accountants and professionals in workshops, seminars and one to one helping them land their next jobs and become better leaders, presenters and business partners. Before that I spent 25 years in accountancy climbing the career ladder from Payments Clerk to FD. I’m a CIMA Fellow, Certified Professional Coach and Team Coach Facilitator.

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