If you aspire to reach the top of your organisation i.e. secure a board position or go beyond – but are questioning why your career path has reached a plateau – our research shows that the answer may lie in your leadership skills (or lack of them).

Your ability to engage people should not be underestimated, especially in the current financial climate where the need to inspire others and ultimately win new business has never been greater. It would be fair to say that those who go far often do so on the strength of their technical expertise perhaps demonstrating an impeccable track record in process or delivery.

But our interviews of partners and directors who have reached the top in both the finance and professional services sectors reveal that those who go further are likely to have demonstrated leadership. In other words they are proactive participants rather than passive recipients; they inspire people through their role modelling; they enable others, influencing minds with rigour and foresight whilst engaging hearts with empathy and understanding. These leaders have a firm-wide perspective. They grasp the need to win business and crucially – they know how to do it; they know that business comes from reaching out to the marketplace as opposed to sitting behind closed doors waiting either for the telephone to ring or someone else to hand them the business on a plate. They build client relationships and look for ways to add value to those relationships; they advocate a care before contract mindset. It may not be surprising if that someone is therefore the same person who is climbing the corporate ladder faster than his or her peers. This person already leads their team effectively, not only in driving the business but in giving credit to others so that everyone feels empowered on the path to growth.

The days of a command and control culture are gone. As economic growth gathers momentum and the job market becomes more fluid, organisations will have a job on their hands to retain top talent. It follows that those leaders who nurture and encourage their people whilst also demonstrating ability to convert clients will be hot contenders for promotion to the upper echelons of their organisation.

If you would like to learn more about our research findings on the promotions process in the finance and professional services sectors, please get in touch.

Author: Thomas Chalmers