Horizontal move could take you one step closer to the Leadership roles you are aspiring for!

Horizontal move could take you one step closer to the Leadership roles you are aspiring for!

Many aspire to get into the leadership roles. These roles require a breadth and depth of various experiences and exposures.

Customer experience has gained prime importance in the corporate sector lately. Almost, all types of businesses are becoming more customer-centric. A study by Gallup revealed that improving customer experience benefitted the companies with 66% higher sales growth, 25% increase in customer loyalty and 10% increase in net profit.

Companies such as Amazon, Virgin Atlantic, Apple and few more have earned their names for working towards strengthening customer experience. 9 out of 10 marketing leaders say that their organizations try to become more customer-centric.

Who should be driving customer experience?

The leaders, of course! But the challenge with driving customer experience is, it is a multi-faceted problem. If you try to give better quality to the people, your costs may increase and any increase in your price could lead to customer dissatisfaction. The role of a leader requires wider knowledge and overall understanding. Now, to become ready for such a dynamic job, understanding its prerequisites become inevitable.

Most of the people find it easier while climbing the traditional and convenient predefined job ladder, but if you are aiming to fit a leadership role, the experiences in your bucket must be manifold. In order to broaden your experience and professional skill set, lateral mobility becomes important. Moving across different domains will not only help you to build new skills it would also add up different responsibilities. When you have a diverse experience in your journey, you can deliver your best and benefit the company vividly. Diverse experience will provide you with a broader knowledge base, which is what ideally most companies are looking for.

A natural tendency is to look for a higher-level job title. Horizontal growth is as important as vertical growth when one is aiming high. Undoubtedly, switching paths is not much easy for a business. We can conclude that horizontal growth and having myriads of experiences in various domains can equip you to serve as a best leader. Horizontal growth is often compared to a lattice where every bit of your experience makes you more valuable.

How do you make a change?

It is a tough business, and there is always a chance of failure if you move to a new domain. But I have a three-step formula for you. If you follow it, you are sure going to be able to make a change and have much higher chance at success in the new role.

  • Step 1- Gain Knowledge: This is the easy part. You know what role you are aiming for. You can research about the knowledge that is required to perform that role. In case you get a chance to seek guidance from someone who is already doing that role, that may turn out even better. Getting access to the knowledge is relatively easy. You can even earn the relevant certificates to bolster your credentials for the new role. All it needs is time and effort, which of course is in your control.
  • Step 2- Gain Experience: Well, no one can learn to play tennis by gaining knowledge about it. One needs to gain experience too! How do we do that? Work with your manager to become part of any cross-functional projects that may provide you a chance to work with your target team, or seek out a mentor from the target department/group and work with them. Seek specific assignments and get them evaluated. Make sure that the mentor gets something back for his/her investment in you. Do a project or a part of it for them; that way you gain real experience, and they can get the return on the time they invested in you. Seek as many mentors as you need.
  • Step 3 Gain- Connections: If you do not come to know about the new role in time, you may lose it. You see when the new department is looking to open a new role, even before it gets formally approved, the leader starts soliciting potential candidates. If they do not know you, you have less chances of getting hired. So, better make some connections in your target department. Use steps 1-2 listed above to seek out people, share your interest and progress with them. Your mentor may be able to put in a word for you to the hiring leader.

By following the three-step process, you get more possibility of making the change and more chances of being successful in new roles. Many leaders have followed this not-so-straight path to their current roles, including Satya Nadella of Microsoft. Embrace horizontal growth early in your career in case you aim to be in the executive leadership team one day!

About the Author

Ms. Manbir Kaur is an Executive and Leadership Coach (Professional Certificated Coach, PCC - ICF). She is also a Conversational Intelligence(C-IQ) Enhanced Skills Practitioner and a key-note speaker.

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