Turn Your Career On Its Ears…A Counterintuitive Concept
By Nancy Fredericks
Nancy Fredericks pens Women Lead Change's "Mindful Mondays" column, appearing the second Monday of every month. Fredericks is a preeminent Business Executive Strategist, Author and Thought Leader. Corporations like Johnson & Johnson, PepsiCo, Adobe, Allergan and Transamerica have retained her to optimize individual and organizational performance. You can find her at www.thrivewithnancy.com. The views of Nancy Frederick's blogs represent her own and not necessarily the views of Women Lead Change.
Many say Generation X, Millennials, and Generation Y are skeptical of the advice offered by the preceding generations… Particularly Baby Boomers.
Sorry, not sorry, that’s me.
Can you put that judgment aside for a moment if this mindset represents you?
I’m betting you’ll find a juicy career morsel in this blog that provokes a mental shift currently limiting your career progress without you knowing it.
Hold onto your hat.
Let me suggest the interjection point where you may have taken on a misguided career success belief that has stalled your rise from the get-go.
What did you bring to the first interview that had them hire you?
Most executives list their degrees, expertise, or accomplishments when asked this question.
Right! This early judgment often locks in a mistaken idea concerning the secret for all your future successes.
The reality is resting your professional laurels on “doing” activities has your organization assessing you on lower-level skills that are not what future leaders of your organization need to demonstrate.
Your career prospects don’t rest on you digging deeper into your expertise. That’s a fallacy. A misconception many women bet their careers on as they continue working under the assumption that what got them the job will earn them recognition for their next, next, and next position.
Sadly, the key that unlocks promotion to leadership roles isn’t based on your ever-increasing expertise or delivering more products or services. In reality, continually concentrating on demonstrating these lower-level skills has your organization questioning whether you have what it takes to be a future leader.
Is this hitting home?
Pause for a moment. Reflect on what research tells us. The volume of knowledge doubles every 12 hours. This fact alone should tell you that being the executive known for doing everything or being the source of knowledge will limit your future. You’ll spend your whole career with this restricted focus, never testing out higher-level characteristics.
Let me pile on a bit more research. Today women surpass the number of men earning a bachelor’s degree each year. And this upward trend started in the 70s! Yet it hasn’t generated a similar trend in the number of women achieving the most senior levels of their companies.
Women currently hold only 35 percent of senior leadership positions, compared to men, who retain 65 percent of all leadership roles. This statistic is accurate even though women account for over half of the workforce.
Why? Because it isn’t knowledge or production or working longer hours that is the differentiating factor for promotions.
Pause another moment. Look at your leaders. Do they have the knowledge and expertise to do your job? Are they the go-to wizards for specifics regarding products or services?
No. Leaders never touch these areas. Leadership is not about being a specialist. And these capabilities aren’t what counts for your meaningful future! The higher you progress in your organization, the more removed you become from daily operations and the more nuanced and strategic you need to be.
What are some of the characteristics and skills of leaders? They inspire, motivate, enroll, and influence everyone around them. They provide the strategic direction that is the driving force behind every position in the company.
Leaders are big-picture oriented. They’re certainly not filling in the detail or correcting the flaws in the plan. Leaders are change agents that transform the organization’s future and its people.
Are you beginning to realize the immensity of the space you step into as a leader? Where does your knowledge and expertise fit into this job? In many ways, it doesn’t.
Yes. You need to be the best you can be at every level. And you also ought to proactively initiate thinking more expansively than any of your jobs along the way requires. It’s getting out of the box of “doing” into expanding the box of “being.” What does this mean?
- Nothing gets done in business—no product or service—without relationships making it happen. Every week get above the weeds to create relationships upward, laterally, and downward internally and externally. Promotions occur because you’re known. Particularly when you’re perceived as an up-and-coming future leader. So, all work and no connections are never the secrets to your future.
- Become masterful at engaging, enrolling, and inspiring others no matter what your future holds for you. Learning to bring out the greatness in others will serve you well.
- Stop attempting to look like one of the smartest executives in the room. Leaders appreciate that a compounding factor works miracles. Companies accrue a more powerful organization as they listen, encourage, and expect ideas to emerge from others. Employees engage more fully in projects where they’ve vested their creativity and expertise. Expanding the resources available throughout the organization is the compounding factor leaders generate!
- For every project you touch, begin looking at it with the eyes of a leader. Ask yourself daily: Is there anything I can add or subtract to make this project better in the long term?
Yes. Most organizations have become narrowly focused. So much, so that other factors outside the project are rarely considered. There’s no harm, and I believe huge upside benefit to speaking and seeing from a wider-ranging, less restricted perspective. It has you sounding and showing up as a leader way before you’re responsible for the role.
Did a false belief shake itself free just now from limiting your future?
Starting today, is there a new mindset you want to apply to your career? These are the “Ahas” that make leaders. And as I continue to encourage. Ideas alone are not enough to change your future. It requires action…action…action!
Do you believe in yourself enough?
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