Sunday, July 06, 2014

What's Killing Your Career?

Look, I've been doing this for 30 years.  I've coached people to unparalleled success as well as help them rebuild after spectacular failure.   There are a lot....a lot, a lot, a lot of people out there who are capable of rising much higher than what they have.   There are five critical barriers which keep them from moving from good to great.

Lack Of Integrity:    Trust matters.  Trust matters a lot.   Being open and honest with those on your team is critical to success of the organization as well as your own personal advancement.   Now leadership does require some tough calls and some decisions that hurt others.    But key to making such calls is being open and transparent.  Let the team know why you had to make such a decision and what criteria you used in making such choices.   And always do what you said you were going to do.   And if for some reason you have to break a promise or miss a commitment, then own up and offer something in compensation.

Crappy People Skills:   Knowing your stuff matters, but it isn’t the whole ball game.  The technically competent loner may find a slot in the organization, but will not move up into a position of leadership.  Too much of our work these days is done in teams.   Arrogance, insensitivity, aloofness is a ticket to getting stuck in a lower level career.

Inability to Prioritize High Value Work:    You can’t do it all.  So stick to the things that bring the highest return to the organization.  Be ruthless with this decision-making.  There is far too much ‘busyness’ in our day-to-day work.  This is a failure to focus upon the things which matter most and produce the biggest bang. 

Rigidity.  Change is the only constant in the world and the pace of change is accelerating.  We now no longer measure careers in decades, but in much shorter time frames.  For a person stepping out into the world of work, they are likely to have 4-5 careers by the time they retire.  This will not be by their choice.  Job creation/destruction will explode and those who fail to adapt are in for some pain. Actually, a lot of pain.  Workers who fail to adapt will become obsolete and fail.

Lack of Strategic Thinking:   Too many of us get bogged down in day-to-day operations and thus miss the endless opportunities presented to us on a platter.   Success in the future demands that one keep an eye for what’s coming over the horizon.  Short term goals are important, but these matter little unless achieved within long-term thinking.   Strategic thinking helps one foresee problems, recognize new opportunities, and position the organization for ready response.