I’ve heard many a top executive say they couldn’t accomplish what they do without their terrific “right-hand man.”
To be that trusted man (or woman) is a plum in an organization’s hierarchy. It also can be a career dead end if you aim higher.
Management consultant John Beeson says being pegged as a great No. 2 is the “first lieutenant syndrome.” You carry out orders, but the general gets credit as the visionary and strategist.
If you want to rise in the ranks, Beeson advises you to find ways to showcase your own strategic abilities.
A boss who supports your goals may help design a role for you to show upper management or customers that you have the vision to lead.
Without that help, you “may need to move on to another part of the company to avoid being overshadowed” by your boss, Beeson says.
Here’s a vital step: Be self-aware enough to know if you truly have strategic gears to engage. Some people don’t.
Your excellence at carrying out details may be why you’re in the position you hold. And there’s no dishonor in staying there.
Still want to move up?
Start by delegating some of your implementation responsibilities to others, Beeson says.
Next, get out of the office. Attend industry events. Meet customers.
“Feed your strategic intelligence,” Beeson urges.
Most important: Think ahead. Someone creates the plans you’ve spent your career implementing. Now you need to create the plan. What’s around the corner for your company? What are your competitors doing? What do your customers want?
An effective No. 1 assembles that information and charts direction.
“And realize that conveying a vision to the organization is both the strategic concept and a communication task,” Beeson says.
You need to prove that you’re an idea guy, a facilitator and a motivator. Beeson says that means making others “confident you have the ability to generate a winning strategy for the organization.”Diane Stafford is the workplace and careers columnist at The Kansas City Star. Her “Your Job” blog at economy.kansascity.com includes daily posts about job-related issues of wide interest. Readers may write to her at: Kansas City Star, 1729 Grand Blvd., Kansas City, Mo. 64108-1413, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.