If you want to advance to top-level positions - as a professional or volunteer - focus on these key areas:
Analyze the top positions: What skills and experiences will you need to compete successfully? What are the "linchpin" positions in your agency? How have established leaders moved up the professional or philanthropic ladder?
Develop your skill sets: The senior portfolio includes strategic thinking, financial fluency, team leadership, and effective communication. Identify opportunities to expand your skills and give you visibility in these areas. If you're involved in planning or program track, look for opportunities to master fundraising. Practice your public speaking and learn the art of fiscal management. Take on risky projects that will help you cultivate relationships while demonstrating your effectiveness.
Expand your networks: Wherever you stand on the organizational ladder, you need colleagues and mentors. Constructive feedback, political savvy, mutual support - these are just some of the benefits that peers and more senior colleagues can provide. Look for networking events, professional associations, or communal volunteer opportunities that will widen your circle.
Respond when the headhunter calls: Most men will listen when a new career opportunity presents itself. If you are approached by a head hunter, a board member, or a colleague from your own agency, use the chance to learn more, and take advantage of this chance to practice effective promotion of your credentials.