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An executive leadership role is often seen as the highest point someone can reach in their career. However, all professional roles have their ups and downs, even those at or near the top. Any number of situations could force reevaluation of your current career path, from shake-ups to prolonged complacency.

Consider the three F’s of your executive career: fight, flight or freeze, and when each might be the appropriate course of action.

Freeze

Sometimes the easiest (and most comfortable) is to freeze, or remain in place for the near-term. This likely is the best option if your paycheck supports you sufficiently, you enjoy most aspects of your job, you wish to gain more experience or for any other legitimate reason.

However, staying in place does not mean you should halt future planning efforts. You should pencil in a date in which you will reevaluate your situation; perhaps you make a different decision at that point in time. Please, do not get complacent. On a regular basis, take the time to review your professional life and update your resume. This will expedite a future executive search and ensure you do not miss out on a potential dream job!
The leadership environment for executives is dynamic; this can cause an executive’s career outlook to quickly change. No matter your industry, it is a good idea to confirm and/or adjust your executive career path periodically to remain on your long-term goal trajectory.

Fight

One option is to stay in your current position but compete (or “fight”) for better opportunities. This can include asking for any number of items: a salary increase, additional responsibilities, cross-functional assignment to a different department, and other helpful options to improve your situation. You may like your job but find yourself overwhelmed by the sheer volume of tasks that belong to you. Reallocation or distribution of some of your responsibilities to others is likely a viable solution.

Of course, you will prove yourself through your actions. Stand ready to defend your position when pressed by senior leadership. Choose to fight if you still enjoy your job and see potential for advancement and opportunities at your current firm.

Fly

There are other occasions when leaving your current situation is the best option. Examples include: your existing job is taking a negative toll on your health, you are enduring abuse, your career is at a dead end and your requests for a raise have been denied. In these cases, you likely should move your career in a new direction (and do it soon).

Never quit your current job before finding a new one; it is several times easier to earn a new offer while employed. Executive recruiters are excellent partners in this search process. Their role is to connect you with companies in need of top management.

However, if you believe the decision to start looking for a new job is the right one for you, an executive recruiter is a great resource to meet your long term career goals.