I’m all about the pivotal moments. And that most-often brings to mind the (quote-unquote) “big” moments.
But our success (or otherwise!) has an awful lot to do with the (quote-unquote) “small” things we consistently do.
(Or don’t do!)
When it comes to securing promotion, there are ways for us to identify, embrace and capitalise on those big career moments. (Actually, I’ve written a short book on the subject.)
But no amount of coaching is going to help us secure that promotion if our day-to-day groundwork has been slowly but surely undermining our career prospects.
So here are 8 behaviours to eliminate from your day-to-day: to put you in the running for career success.
When was the last time you proactively thought about your longer-term career, reached-out to your networking contacts or committed to personal development that wasn’t thrust upon you? When was the last time you took a long hard look at your current performance and asked: is this good enough? Could this be better? Complacency, in all its forms, can really stifle a career. Challenge yourself: what else could I be doing?
Fear of change
In surveys of successful employees, the ability to adapt to a changing workplace – whether that change is local, global, technical, political or otherwise – is repeatedly quoted as a crucial characteristic. Change is a constant part of our lives, not just our work. We need to decide whether to drown beneath the wave; or surf it. Again, challenge yourself: where have I become overly-comfortable (even complacent) with the status quo? What more could I do to embrace and lead change, rather than shrink from and resist it?
Over-promising and under-delivering
It’s tempting to promise the moon. But even when it’s come from a place of honesty and commitment, consistent under-delivery will harm your career. Because the only person who’s interested in the reasons you let someone down is you. The rest of us remember the outcome. So, from the very beginning: know your capacities; focus on the desired outcomes; and set realistic expectations.
Operating on ego
Our ego is concerned with two things: looking good; and being right. And I’m not going to harp on about this one too much – because we all know when our egos are in charge! So simply take a moment to reflect on some of your decisions, courses of action, behaviours and beliefs that have been ego-led. Which of those are benefitting your career? Which are not? And with that in mind, what changes might you want to make in support of your longer-term career?
Losing sight of the big picture
With the consistently high demands on our time, it’s easy to become heads-down busy with no time or thought for the big picture. But individuals with successful careers are characterised by that bigger-picture thinking: able to relate the day-to-day with their overarching goals; their overarching goals with the business; and the business with its place in the world. To keep sight of the wider context, schedule some time in your calendar for strategic thinking (whatever level of the business you’re at). And keep coming back to the big picture.
As human beings, we’re all deeply-attuned to one another. And our moods (especially our negative moods) can leak out and affect those around us, whether we intend that or not. Simply put: our negativity complicates (when we should be simplifying!) things for everyone around us and gets in the way of a quality delivery. So catch your negative thoughts and park them for your offline time. And if you notice a pattern of persistent negativity – look deeper.
Low emotional intelligence (EQ)
Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is about self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy and social skills. And it’s crucial to your success: in your current role; and in your longer-term career. Whatever industry you’re in, whatever role you hold, it can be tempting to focus only on the “technical” aspects of our jobs. But for the influence and impact that determines your career success, we need to work on our EQ.
There is a political dimension to any group, including the organisations in which we work. And in my opinion, its somewhat naïve not to consider the office politics at play. That doesn’t mean to say the politics at play need automatically be negative. Understanding the make-up of the organisation, knowing where the key people of influence reside and working hard to build strong relationships built on authenticity and trust is a positive expression of being politically aware. And its crucial for career success. An opposite expression of “playing politics” that might include undermining colleagues, choosing sides, instigating conflict, will also have a strong bearing on your career. No prizes for guessing what kind of bearing.
Setting-up the pivotal career moments
For me, so much of our success is defined, created, shaped and made to happen in those few-but crucial pivotal moments. But when it comes to our career, it’s as much about what we consistently do between those moments.
Set a positive foundation for your next pivotal career moment by eliminating those career- limiting behaviours.