Looking to manage your career? Put those tips aside.
In our quest to find the “right” way to manage our career, the real question we’re trying to answer is: How can I make sure my career plays out the way I want it to?
In today’s dynamic business environment, everyone’s grappling with this question as one of the major factors affecting career development. Just have a look at all of the management books and courses out there - all offering their one and only solution for career success. But I’m sorry to say that based on my 35 years of experience in helping managers fulfill their career potential, the one and only solution simply doesn’t exist.
I can speak from the experience of all of those well-meaning managers who’ve tried out all of what’s out there. The road to career success is a lot more complicated than following the one and only solution, unfortunately misperceived as one of the factors affecting career development.
Let’s take an example. Many of us were taught the golden rule that to communicate sincerity, you need to make direct eye contact with the person you’re speaking with. If you don’t, you seem shifty and dishonest.
Is this really true for all situations? What happens if you’re dealing with someone who’s shy? Introverted? From a culture where eye contact is considered aggressive? What about people who don’t like being put on the spot? What effect would following this golden rule have in these situations? You guessed it: major failure.
My point in bringing up this simple example is that to succeed in managing your career, you can’t follow a one size fits all way of doing things. Why? Because we’re all different. In fact, the only thing we all have in common is that we’re human beings.
But today’s world fails to acknowledge our individuality. Instead, feeding on our hunger for instant solutions, we’re told that anything can be solved with a quick fix that’s suitable for anyone in any situation. Though this seems very appealing, it doesn’t really address our problems because solutions really cannot and do not work that way. If they did, then the current exponential growth in managerial books, courses, etc. would’ve led to more managers achieving their career ambitions. Instead, the opposite has occurred. The reason is that well-meaning managers are being fed career advice that just doesn’t fit them individually. And when they fail to follow this ill-fitting advice, they don’t blame the fit, they blame themselves. And then a vicious cycle ensues - bad advice leading to the inability to carry it out, resulting in failure after failure. And then the dejected manager laments, usually with one of these statements (or possibly a combination):
I’ve done everything, but I guess I’m just unlucky.
I’ve tried everything, but it’s just not in the cards for me.
I’ve followed all of the advice, but I guess I’m just not promotion material.
As you can clearly see, the common denominator here is that the manager felt as if they’d really done everything possible to achieve their career goal, yet to no avail. This misconception has resulted in creating a population of talented managers who live out the rest of their lives in misery - one of the great tragedies of our time.
I won’t make any promises like the career management marketers, but I will tell you one thing:
The definition of “giving it your all” is making the kind of effort needed by you as an individual.
So if you want to advance in your career, it’s surely possible, but it is absolutely essential that you first know not only what steps are right for you but also how you as an individual should carry them out. This means discovering your own path towards career success without:
1. cookie-cutter tips;
2. emulating someone else;
3. giving up on who you are.
In future posts, I’ll be helping you discover your own unique path to career success.
If you have any questions in the meantime, please get in touch.
And always remember:
Great managers are made. Not born.
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