Oh my, what did I get myself into? The organizer of the workshop I’m on the panel for wants me to give career advice…
Oh and by the way, you will also be asked about your career path and how to land that promotion.
I don’t know if I’m qualified to answer any questions about getting to the top (I’m no Oprah Winfrey or Sheryl Sandberg, I’m no Marissa Mayer or Arianna Huffington), but for what it’s worth, I can share what I think is important for all of us to keep in mind as we navigate our careers paths.
Know the Goals
Understand the goals and objectives of your unit, department, division… organization. Really know the impact you have on your stakeholders at all levels, think about even the city, province, country! Ensure that what you are doing aligns with what your boss and your boss’s boss and your boss’s boss’s boss need to achieve.
Know Your Job, Do It Well
I can’t emphasize this enough! Know your job. Do it well. That’s what we’re getting paid for. Know the rules. Play by them or change them. Know your clients. Meet their needs. Do this. Do it well.
Create, Don’t Copy, Forge, Don’t Follow
By the way, did you notice that I didn’t say: “Know your job description”? HR is going to hate me for saying this, but a job description is outdated as soon as it’s been posted. Know your job from an outcomes perspective. But then make the job your own with creativity. Do the job in a way that no one else can. Bring your strength to the table. Make it yours. You want people to say to your successor “you have big shoes to fill”. Be YOU!
Make It Win/Win
Understand that everyone wants to do their job well, so don’t make it harder for others to do theirs. Getting what you need done at the expense of someone else is not a sustainable strategy. When you do your job well, you look good. If you make others look good, you look even better. Make sure that everyone wins in every interaction.
Guard Your Reputation
Guard your reputation with every word you say, every action you do and every decision you make. You are only as good as your reputation and you never know who knows whom or who talks to whom! Decide on the adjectives that you would want others to describe you if your name came up in a conversation and make sure you live those adjectives. Would you want to hear: Responsible? Intelligent? Confident? Effective? Hardworking? OR… Unprofessional? Lazy? Arrogant? Naysayer? Uninspired?
Create Good Luck
Luck plays a role in everything. However…
I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed. – Michael Jordan
Manage Your Career
The biggest favour anyone can do for themselves is to actively manage their own career. It’s nice to ask for advice, but the only person who knows you well enough is… you. Access mentors, but don’t ask them what to do. Tell them what you think the situation is and what YOU think you should do. Ask them if they see something you don’t, because they can provide a perspective you may not have considered. At the end of the day, it’s on you. Take accountability for the decisions you make, the lessons you learn and the path you forge.
Lastly, don’t forget to give back!