There was a time when achieving a high-level job in the corporate world was viewed as the epitome of success. Today, younger people in particular are more likely to aspire to become an entrepreneur than work their way up the corporate career ladder. In truth, there is nothing wrong with either approach. Some people are naturally drawn to a high-risk career path where they are answerable to no-one, whereas others prefer the security and stability of working for a large corporation where there is a clear career trajectory. If the latter is more appealing to you, do you have what it takes to be a success?
What is Your Tolerance to Risk?
It’s a well-known fact that starting a business is a risky affair. If you are risk averse, entrepreneurship is probably not for you. Successful entrepreneurs like Sam Ovens usually begin their journey from a place where they have nothing. It takes a lot of guts and self-belief to take an idea and grow it into a successful business venture. Unfortunately, not everyone has the stomach for such risk.
Climbing the corporate ladder can still be risky. There is no such thing as a “safe” job these days and final salary pensions are a thing of the past. Nevertheless, a corporate career does tend to be less risky than starting a business, and if you forge a career in the right organisation, you can achieve the same level of financial security, as well as a desirable leadership role.
The Qualities of a Corporate Leader
To achieve a senior leadership role in a large corporation, you need to possess certain key qualities.
To reach the higher echelons of corporate management requires focus. You can be a great manager, but if you are not focussed on the job at hand, your efforts will be wasted. It’s important to stay focussed and be mindful about what you are doing and why. The more focused you are, the less likely you are to make costly mistakes. Procrastination is the enemy of productivity. Don’t let a propensity for procrastination kill your chances of promotion up the corporate career ladder.
Diligent people don’t slack off when the going gets tough. Instead, they work harder until the job is done. You have to be diligent if you want to attain a leadership role. If you prove yourself to be a hard-working diligent employee, your managers will notice and you are more likely to be promoted into a senior role.
Success does not happen overnight. It can take twenty years or more to end up with a seat on the board. Some people fast-track their career through a process of luck, good contacts, and innate talent. However, it’s better to practice patience and bide your time. If you possess the right skills, the right opportunity will come knocking on your door eventually.
Empathy is often in short supply in the corporate world and some researchers have claimed that positions of power often attract psychopaths, who are completely devoid of empathy or conscience. However, although psychopaths are naturally driven towards roles where they can exercise power without fear of reprisals, empathetic leaders are just as successful. They are arguably more popular with their peers and subordinates, too.
Self-discipline is crucial. Sociopaths claw their way to the top of the ladder by lying, cheating, and ignoring ethics, but if you want to be promoted on your own merits, it’s important that you avoid taking short-cuts and practice integrity at all times, even when there are easier paths to take.
If you follow the above principles, a senior leadership role within a big corporation will soon be within reach.