Welcome to today's episode of Tuesdays with Coach Mo where this month, I'm sharing insight and perspective on what you can do as a high achiever to create a career advantage.
This is the first of a two-part series on how high Achievers create a career advantage. In part 1, we’ll focus on being a high-achiever and in part 2, the focus is on what high achievers do in their on-the-job performance.
Now, I want to take a moment an offer insight as to why I am using the term career advantage. ‘Advantage’ is defined as a condition or circumstance that puts one in a favorable or superior position. What I want for you is consideration of your long-range professional journey.
Within that journey, there will be instances of advancing your career, through a promotion for example, however, uncertainty happens when you least expect it whether in your personal or professional life and by being deliberate and thoughtful about who you are becoming as a leader and how you are developing your leadership competencies, you are preparing yourself to smooth out the sharp edges that may arise throughout your journey so that you are a more fulfilled and satisfied high achiever.
To new listeners of this podcast, welcome! I am so glad that you are here. And, if you are a subscriber to the Tuesdays with Coach Mo podcast, I say welcome back and I'm pretty certain you've heard me use the term career insurance plan. Imagine an equilateral triangle made up of the following three sides: 1) your network 2) your professional development and 3) your financial plan
In this 2-part podcast series, I am referring to an ebook and the eCourse I created called 7 Guiding Principles to Achieve a Career Advantage.
Today, I am discussing 4 of the 7 Guiding Principles that are most closely related to your being a high-achiever. They are:
- Be an equal opportunity Giver of kindness
- The Inner Circle
- Speak up
- You are responsible for your career period
- Remain a student
- Know your life purpose and live it
Before diving into the 4 Guiding Principles to be shared today…..let’s first set the stage with consideration of the mindset of a high achiever.
I recall from an HBR ideacast interview titled When High Performers Struggle and the guest was Bob Seelert former chairman of Saatchi & Saatchi, the ad agency. And in the interview he shared a reference to some legendary Sports coaches who, like many high achievers, hated losing and never made excuses.
He referenced that these coaches mentioned that they were aware of others who did settle for excuses like oh it was the referee's fault tour our team didn't get the same amount of rest , or whatever it was.
When it was these high-achieving legendary coaches who tended to face the facts of reality by saying to their team simply we got beat. And then proceeded to do an introspective look at what factors contributed to their losing. What are the learning opportunities? what are the necessary adjustments to make? and put their perspective and focus on preparing for the next game
When I heard this I couldn't help but reflect on Carol Dweck's book Mindset as this seem to truly demonstrate the difference between having a fixed mindset compared to a growth mindset
And so for high achievers particularly with a growth Mindset say to you join me and let's explore how you will move your career forward whether in the face of a failure or simply the desire for continued growth and accelerated leadership
Let’s now turn first to the first guiding principle for creating a career advantage: Be An Equal Opportunity Giver of Kindness
An act of kindness goes a long way. We are all unique package of complexities stemming from our beliefs, actions and emotions and as a result, the workplace can be a natural incubator for conflict struggle and Discord.
Considering the increased level of stress many find themselves in the current pandemic environment, the behaviors of short tempers and increased sensitivity to perceived slights can overtime contribute to burnout and fatigue altering the behaviors of otherwise high-functioning employees.
In the Psychology Today article titled Can Being Kind Make you a Better Boss? It was revealed that research has shown that emotions are in fact contagious and that they flow from the most powerful person in the room.
And so whether or not you at any one time or the most powerful person in the room how will beginning to think you are as of today and behave accordingly prepare you for when you are in fact the most powerful person in the room.
This authors shared insights from research that indicates that kind bosses have been shown to increase morale, decrease absenteeism, and retain employees longer.
In a recent Inc article, Good Leadership is an Act of Kindness, authors Groysberg and Seligson offered the following ways to practice kindness as a matter of course.
I hear you? Be fully present and really listen to what members of the team are sharing.
Ask the question of How are you Managing These Days?
Also, consider asking What can I do to help? As a way to simply validate someone's challenges during these difficult times
Now, consider for yourself, while on your career Journey you are engaging in a multitude of relationships. Relationships that probably range from deep friendships to casual acquaintances. Well, we’ve all heard that phrase, ‘don’t burn your bridges’ in other words, work to keep relationships intact such that you may ‘cross that bridge’ or engage in the relationship again at some point along your career journey. What may support your career over the long term in one way is by your peers or colleagues serving as a reference for I sharing their first-hand experience of how it was to work with you
Think about it as you look ahead in your career and as you pursue New Opportunities don't you want the word on the street to be that you were really great to work with the impression you make on your colleagues today can paid dividends in your career future
Now if you are someone who is wondering, but yeah isn't kindness a show of weakness. The answer is absolutely not.
Forbes contributor and reputation management expert, Davia Temin, once that you can be a far better and more successful professional if you treat people with kindness Once people realize exhibiting kindness does not mean being a pushover it can be a profoundly motivating force.
The next principle is You are Responsible for Your Career. Period.
Early in your career it becomes apparent that your path may not be as linear as you first thought. By this I simply mean that there is a commonly held belief that you enter at an entry level position and then you get increasingly advanced roles and promotions as you navigate your way up the corporate ladder. When in reality….your experience may be quite different., you may be temporarily placed on a different assignment than you were originally hired for, or you have a new boss you don't particularly care for or respect, the company downsizes and positions and departments cut, or quite simply the work isn't what you thought it was going to be.
It's a natural part of life, things change. Sometimes things change that are beyond your control, alternatively there are things within your control that by being astute and self-aware there may be very apparent indications that it is time for you to make changes professionally. Anything from is simple as a dislike for getting up and going to work in the morning to situations undermining your health and well-being. Feelings related to anxiety or high stress that emerge as a result of your job are clear indications that it's time for a change.
And when you find yourself in the situation who do you turn to?
Going to your company HR department may be helpful for identifying alternate opportunities within the organization yet the ownership of advancing your career rests squarely with you. That means having conversations with individuals throughout the organization to learn about unpublished jobs or emerging opportunities and assignments that are of interest to you.
As Janine Moon stated in her book Career Ownership Creating Job Security in Any Economy " just as you move from renting to owning your home is commonly the first big investment milestones for many people, the move to Career ownership is a first milestone toward building equity in your work security." A portion of Janine’s book is included in my 7 guiding principles to Achieve a Career Advantage ecourse.
By being deliberate and disciplined in how you own your career you can expect to enjoy an increased sense of stability, deeper satisfaction and increased degree of confidence as you have a framework within which you navigate your professional future.
The high-achiever who owns their career is already thinking about the next job or two they want and their options for getting there. By having this vision, it informs you of the skills, knowledge and experience you want to gain in your current role in order to prepare yourself for those future moves.
Be A Student
It is a false assumption to believe that you are only a student in the formal sense, when there is an instructor, lesson plans, exams and homework to complete. And, it is false to assume that being a student comes to an end when you walk across the stage to receive a certificate or diploma.
Think about it this way, when it comes to being a student of life, you have an eternal enrollment. There are teachers who present themselves in the forms of colleagues, relatives, thought leaders, and experts. And as a student of life, the lesson plans, or goals, are designed by you, the student who desires to pursue different dreams. Your exams are no longer subjected to receiving an A, B or C grade - - instead it is about the quality and satisfaction you have with your pursuits at home and at work. Did you succeed? Fall short of expectations? Want to do better next time?
As it relates to your career, it's impossible to predict what the future holds. As Jim Collins states in his book Great by Choice, none of us can predict with certainty the twists and turns our Lives will take. Life is uncertain, the future unknown. This is neither good nor bad. It just is, like gravity.
What better way to achieve a career advantage then to remain a student. Whether within the organization or as a candidate for consideration for new job or as an entrepreneur, others seek to gain confidence in those who have deep understanding. A deep understanding of an industry and or skill set, or strong command of their leadership and professionalism.
As a student, homework is all around you; books, blogs, lectures, workshops, discussions with others, each providing you with a new bit of insight or understanding to feed the critical thinking of your learner mindset
Know your purpose and live it
You are gifted with unique talents and abilities which make you special. And, as a result, your contributions are meaningful to the communities you are a part of and the organizations you serve. However, when the noise around you and within you becomes deafening, the inner voice of conviction and confidence can be stifled by negative or unpleasant thoughts it becomes difficult to realize our purpose.
Marcia Bench, experienced coach and author of Career Coaching An Insider’s Guide, said that people will tend to experience success and fulfillment in their career to the extent that they are clear about their life purpose.
I agree! People who are clear of their life purpose tend to apply themselves to the tasks at hand as if time stands still. Challenges or obstacles along the way are simply speed bumps that they most certainly will proceed over.
How do you discover your life purpose? Using your introspective lens, allow yourself time and think to understand your life mission. As you think about a theme for your life, what emerges as your calling? For most life purpose takes time to emerge. But when it does you begin to develop a strategy for your life that includes how you will spend your time, energy and talent. And, in doing so, you begin to realize a sense of fulfillment and satisfaction that is that foundation of experiencing happiness.
To live your life by your design, you then create a framework for yourself that should include the work you will derive more meeting from. As a result, you will attain a career Advantage because your suits are representative of your authentic self.
To support you in the process of discovering your life purpose, I have included several of the thought-provoking questions in my ebook of 7 guiding Principles to Achieve a Career Advantage.
Be certain to catch part-2 of this 2-part series of How High Achievers Create a Career Advantage.
Coach Mo Knows (a tip, a question, and a bit of inspiration)
Join the waitlist for the next Career Advantage group. In this 3-month program, a small group of high-achieving professionals will create their personalized 12-month professional development plan. Participants will receive;
- 2- Assessments
- 3-Group coaching on career advancement
- 4-One-on-one sessions
What steps will you take today toward creating your career advantage?
Purpose is the conscious choice of what, where, and how to make a positive contribution to our world. It is the theme, quality or passion we choose to center our lives around. ~Richard Lieder, The Power of Purpose