There is a reverse funnel as you progress through the ranks of most organizations. As one moves into increasingly senior level positions, the competition for the positions becomes greater. Your existing talents may have landed you a management position, but likely won't boost you to the VP level. To quote the title of Marshall Goldsmith's bestseller, "What Got You Here Won't Get You There."2 In our 30 plus years of coaching and developing leaders, we, at the Hayes Group, have noticed some distinct trends that get people promoted to VP levels. We assume by the time you are a senior manager or director you have learned to build and develop your team and have successfully learned how to work with your immediate manager. However, these skills are often not enough to make the jump from the management level. So, here are our five skills required near the top of the funnel and the steps to take to attain them.
1. Financial Understanding
Leaders of business sectors, almost without exception, have a firm understanding of profit and loss statements. They possess a level of comprehension that surpasses a course on "Finance for Nonfinancial Executives." VP executive recognize trends and can formulate plans. P&L understanding and management is a skill that those without strong financial backgrounds (such as engineers, scientists, operations leaders) must intentionally work to acquire.
To develop this skill: Talk with the CFO or others in the financial team. Meet with your manager to discuss his or her role in the finances of the business. Talk about what they see. Accept jobs that give you experience in managing profit and loss and display your level of proficiency.