Act Like a Leader

Some of the most difficult career concerns and issues have to do with how well your career is tracking.  Should you be pushing for a promotion?  Have you been stuck in the same position too long?  Are your skills appreciated by your boss?  Are others getting promoted into jobs you would love to have and know you are qualified for?  How hard should you push for the next promotion and will that indicate that you are not happy with your current situation?  When will you know you are ready and perhaps a more difficult question, does your company think you will ever be ready for a more senior position?

Take a look at Amy Gallo’s Harvard Business Review blog that deals with some of these issues as it is a very instructive starting point.  She starts by pointing out just how important it is to do your current job extremely well.  She then moves on to talking about how important it is to make your current boss look good.  Taking on jobs that others shy away from is a very good way to get noticed.  I love her point about it not being so important about who you know but rather who notices and knows you.  By taking on difficult assignments, doing your current job extremely well and having the right attitude, your path to the next job will be very smooth.

Perhaps the most important thing to understand about career planning is that it takes a lot of effort.  Everyone likes to dream about the next job and how things will get so much better if they can just get to the next position.  The problem is that for most people it is all about talk and not about action.  Just as a self test, if you really do care about getting promoted to the next level, did you even go to the Gallo blog and really study what she has to say?  Career development is an art.  It takes planning, personal development and stretching beyond what is most comfortable.  It is hard work.

Note that the recommendations go way beyond just wanting and looking for the next job.  It really is all about action, what you do every day on your current job and how you contribute to the overall business.  Do you finish your current work ahead of schedule and perform beyond expectations?  Are you always looking for more work to do rather than trying to avoid the difficult projects?  Do you go out of your way to help others?  How do you think others view you?  Do they think you love your current job or just struggle through it?  Are you an energizing force within the company or do you tend to drag others down?  Are you the first to find opportunities or first to point out the problems?

The real starting point for this work needs to be a self analysis to determine what it is you really want to do with your life.  Do you really want the next job or do you just want the recognition?  What are the things you like and dislike about your current job, and will these be magnified even more if you were promoted?  This is not simple and quite frankly is usually much more complex than people think.  It is worth spending some time thinking about these issues and developing solid, well thought out plans for how to move forward proactively with your career.  Write down your ideas and develop a solid plan.  Isn’t that how a leader would do it?

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