What is Your Career Strategy?
Have you ever wondered about the keys to career success? There are an infinite number of formulas and ideas, and thousands of books on the subject. Some formulas are simple, some are complex. There is no one right answer, but let me share one simple concept that I’ve found effective.
Envision a pyramid. The great Egyptian pyramids come to mind. They’re easily visualized, yet commanding, solid, and dominate the landscape.
Now consider your professional life. You may be active in the “gig” economy, moving to the next opportunity on a regular basis. Or you may be relatively stabilized in a company or in an entrepreneurial venture. Regardless of your professional path, you need to be effective in your career.
Career effectiveness rests on seven key factors. Know them; understand them. And worrk to position your career for maximum impact. There are other formulas, but consider these seven keys to career success.
Envision the components of your career as a pyramid. The career pyramid consists of six components: three basic skill sets, two components for transformative action, one purpose, and one unifying principle.
The Pyramid Base:
Starting at the bottom, the base of the career success pyramid has three components: financial awareness, operations and marketing.
I: Financial awareness: Regardless of your role in the organization, have a basic understanding of finance and the financial structure of your company. Financial considerations often drive decision-making. Understanding finances can help you understand decisions and anticipate strategic changes.
II: Operations: Operations are your daily activities. Be beyond competent. Know how your role connects with others. Think abou operations at a strategic level. What can you learn that is applicable to your next job? Whether you’re promoted from within, or move to a different organization, build a portfolio of capabilities.
III: Marketing: You are constantly marketing yourself. Your performance, appearance, interests and interactions communicate who you are to others. What are your strengths? What are your career goals? How do you plan on achieving them? Set a strategy and position yourself for the career path to which you aspire.
The three basics – financial awareness, operations and marketing – set the stage for the transformational stage of career development. The transformational career components are inspirational leadership and creative innovation.
The Transformational Level:
IV: Inspirational leadership: Rise above passable, to the inspirational. Inspirational leaders set and see a “big picture” vision and guide others to see and embrace the vision as well. You may be managing several employees, or a whole division, or you may currently have no supervisory responsibilities at all. Formally or informally, everyone has the capacity to be an inspirational leader. Your outlook and attitude can inspire those around you, and help set the stage for growth.
V: Creative innovation: The world and the competitive environment is changing constantly. Yesterday’s solutions will not solve tomorrow’s problems, and yesterday’s products won’t satisfy tomorrow’s customers. Embrace tomorrow and the future beyond. What can you and others create to meet the future and thrive in its opportunities?
Finally we reach the top of the pyramid. This is the guiding principle, the motivating mission which drives your career. This is your purpose.
VI: An overarching purpose: You need to earn a living, but a transformative career is about more than profit. What legacy do you want to leave behind? Believe it or not, your time to make an impact is short. Think about and define your purpose. Then structure your career in pursuit of that ideal. Set a goal and strive to achieve it.
The Unifying Force:
VII: Integrity. Integrity is the force unifying and overriding the other six components. Integrity must be central to all you do. Your reputation and word are precious. Do not compromise them, for they are difficult, and sometimes impossible to regain.
Career Success – Now Move Ahead:
Take a moment to reflect. Identify the areas which are holding you back and take action. Launch into the future, and be energized. Your definition of career success may be totally different from your neighbor’s. It may or may not include great financial gain. Whatever it is, have a plan, and work toward your definition of career success.