Recently I came across an article titled “The Fastest Path to the CEO Job, According to a 10-Year Study” by Harvard Business Review. There are several points in the study that can be applied to career advancement in general. I think it’s important to note that not all positions lead to a CEO title, and sometimes, not everyone wants to be CEO of a
large company (and that’s okay!).
Go Small to Go Big
The article mentions the value of accepting a lesser role in a company. This role may be responsible for a new product, branch, or team. When you take on a new position, you have the chance to learn new skills, take the initiative and ultimately prove your worth. I believe in following your passions and making an impact – instead of “climbing the corporate ladder.” You must trust that your career will take you on the right path. Try your best not to judge each organization by its size – you never know where opportunities will arise.
When I joined Service Express, I was the 15th employee. We had 4 locations, and our revenue was just under 3 million. Today, we have over 500 employees, 50 locations and over 130 million in annual revenue. Sometimes the biggest struggle is taking the plunge into unknown territory and seeing where you end up.
Make a Big Leap
In the book “The Ride of Lifetime: Lessons Learned from 15 Years as CEO of the Walt Disney Company,” Robert Iger talks about how he said yes to big opportunities while he was working his way up at Disney. Sometimes it’s best to say yes and figure out how to do it later!
I joined Service Express as a Sales Manager (I had no previous experience leading sales). I knew I could do it, but I didn’t have the proof. The same thing happened when I became President – I believed I could do it, but I didn’t have the formal experience. I could have been biting off way more than I could chew, but I figured it out along the way with the help of a great team around me.
Inherit a Big Mess
You will always hear me say, “run to the problems” because it is truly one of the best pieces of career advice that I can share with you. Take on the big mess and inherit it. If you can’t fix it, it was already broken so what is there to lose? If you’re not afraid to get your hands dirty, you can prove yourself and take a big leap. I think if you focus on doing these things you will fall into a career that you love. Now get after it and take risks!