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How to Get a Seat at the Executive Table Even During a Recession

Friday, May 05, 2023

Recent headlines about the economy may not be building your confidence about the future of your career. With the Fed treading the line between inflation and recession and negative signs in the stock market, many of us are thinking about what the effects could be on our own companies, and whether there will be layoffs down the road.

If these economic conditions are keeping you from knowing how to move forward in your career, this article can help. Three actions can help you to continue your career progression during an atmosphere of uncertainty.

No matter the industry, a company is simply not set up to support individuals in their career growth. This is not your fault. Companies were not created to help employees learn how to gain a seat at the executive table. Companies are organizations that are targeted toward their bottom-line revenue, and continuously innovating to keep growing.

An employer expects each individual to be able to navigate their own career. As individuals, we are expected to contribute in the workplace and have continual momentum. That means the onus is on you to develop the skill sets for this growth. And here are three ways to do that.

1. Sell Certainty

During an economic shift with negative predictions, there is uncertainty and ambiguity. At times like these, companies need to be concerned with whether they’re on the right path and will be able to navigate through the challenges. So, to have a seat at the executive table, the key is to articulate what certainty you can provide.

Employees who can provide strategic direction during uncertain times can earn a place among the executive decision-makers. Consider how you might think more like an executive, instead of an individual contributor. As an executive, your role is no longer primarily an implementation role, exercising your technical functions. And it’s not the time to emphasize the quality of your work if you’re aiming to convince others that you deserve an executive role.

Your quality is already known, since, throughout your career, you’ve proven it in your roles. But now, when aiming for the executive suite, it’s best to think in terms of adding high-level direction to help the company thrive in times of economic uncertainty.

Your role as an executive will be to contribute to the overall strategic direction of the organization: to help guide where your company is going, how it will get there, and how to eliminate bottlenecks that are in the way. To demonstrate you’re capable of this, know how to articulate the value of your thought process and your wisdom strategically, given your years of experience as an implementer. This will help others view you as the executive you seek to become.

2. Solve For Ambiguity

Do you know the specific problem you’re solving on the executive leadership team? Now would be an ideal time to become clear on that. In an economic shift, the executive team’s questions revolve around strategic direction, rather than technical challenges. So it’s critical to know what is in their highest values and what are the problems they are trying to solve.

Generally, these problems that executives are trying to solve in an uncertain climate are ambiguous. These are quite different from technical problems, which are full of the “known knows” and clearly defined factors. So now, it will boost your executive skills if you’re able to shift to learning to solve more ambiguous problems, where all the inputs aren’t known and the factors are not certain.

3. Specify Outcomes

You know you have a lot to contribute to the executive team, but how can you convince others? The best way is to articulate how your value in your role contributes to the specific outcomes for the marketplace they serve. After all, the reason why businesses exist and continue operating is by adding value to the market they serve. It’s helpful to get clear on who that market is and who your company serves because that’s your company’s core reason for being.

Naturally, when things are going well in the industry, it’s appropriate to express your own career goals. But in a time of economic shift, where ambiguity is more common, the executive team is interested in navigating the unknowns. So, you can emerge as a natural leader if you’re able to point to definite outcomes you can help contribute to.

With valuable suggestions to reach these positive outcomes for the company, other executives will regard you as a key member of the core decision-making team.

Now it is time to move away from the knowledge-gathering stage and move on to the application stage. If you’d love to learn how to put the principles covered in this blog into action, join me in my executive coaching program where I’ll introduce you to a powerful self- and career-development process.

This is an implementation-to-results program for growth-oriented executives who seek greater career fulfillment through becoming a more skilled version of themselves. It is designed to help you master your mind, develop deeper insights, elevate your communication skills, and become inspired in your career growth.

If you’d love to find out how my methodology can help you with your career goals, apply HEREfor an opportunity to work with me.

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© Mastery Insights Inc. All Rights Reserved