Author: Michael D. Watkins

Publisher: Harvard Business Press, 2009

ISBN-13: 978-1422147634, 256 pages


If you’ve just been promoted into a major executive position at your firm, here’s hoping you can dodge the bullets your new colleagues will aim directly at your head. Likewise, moving from one corporate business unit to another or taking an executive position at a new company present difficulties. So how should you handle yourself? Leadership development expert Michael D. Watkins outlines eight common executive-career transitions and lays out how to deal with them. He explains why leaders making career moves must step carefully amid office politics, corporate life-stage changes, overseas challenges and business pitfalls. getAbstract recommends his sage advice and savvy suggestions to any executive making a career move. Here’s how to do it right.

Career moves are vital tests

The way you handle job transitions is critical to how far your career will progress. New positions offer serious challenges. Tactics that worked in prior roles may no longer be appropriate. Seven basic principles apply to all career moves:

1. “Organize to learn” – Focus your efforts on gaining the most crucial new knowledge.

2. “Establish A-list priorities” – Set primary goals, then do everything to achieve them.

3. “Define strategic intent” – Your company needs a “compelling mission and vision.”

4. “Build the leadership team” – Balance promoting from within and hiring new talent.

5. “Lay the organizational foundation for success” – Identify necessary changes. Develop a plan to fix any problems.

6. “Secure early wins” – Start with accomplishments that “build personal credibility.”

7. “Create supportive alliances” – Get the right people on your side.

Your ability to cope with a specific job transition and its corresponding tests is pivotal to your success. Study the issues associated with your new role to understand what you are confronting and how to meet your goals. These eight common career transitions present separate challenges:

1. “The promotion challenge”

When you earn a promotion, you must excel to set the stage and prepare for your next move up while proving that your superiors were right to advance you. With each new role, you will lead more people, delegate in new ways and gain competence in fresh areas. Focus on these concerns:

· “Your impact horizon” – The array of issues that fall under your direct responsibility has expanded. Try to balance the “depth and breadth” of the scope of your new tasks.

· Increased “complexity and ambiguity” – The higher you advance, the more your duties increase, as do the risks and variables you need to consider. Learn to delegate efficiently.

· Intensified “organizational politics” – Influence others and develop important alliances.

· Greater distance “from the front lines” – You are no longer in the trenches, but you still must communicate with those who are.

· “Scrutiny” – Inspection from above and below means you will be increasingly in the limelight. So develop a “leadership presence” from the beginning.

2. “The leading-former-peers challenge”

Supervising erstwhile colleagues is not easy. Your former relationships relied on circumstances that no longer apply. Take these steps to “re-engineer” your links with your former peers…

Click here to read on and receive a free summary of this book courtesy of getAbstract, the world's largest online library of business book summaries. (Available through June 8, 2011.)

Be in the know on everything we’re covering here at The Post’s On Leadership section. Follow us on Twitter (@post_lead) and “like” our page on Facebook (On Leadership at The Washington Post).