Putting effort into planning the future business career you want is time well spent, writes Ally MacDonald for MIT Sloan Management Review.
Periodically reviewing your career path is something all leaders can benefit from, whether you are newly climbing the ladder or a well-seasoned director. MacDonald has trawled research articles to find the words of wisdom that underpin these five strategies to help you invest in yourself.
1) Get the best inspiration. Regardless of where you are in your career, you want good advisers, mentors and role models to supply the support and information that guides you. The complexities of the modern business world mean you’re likely to need more than a single individual to help you through changing times. Try to put together a team of diverse individuals you can call on as you develop and grow.
2) Make smart choices. Listen to your intuition and inner judgment when deciding which projects or alliances to invest in. Examine your reasons for wanting to get involved before committing your time, resources and energy to anything new. Is it really the right thing for you or your organisation?
3) Prepare for disruption. Determine how unpredictable your industry is at the moment and what lies behind the volatility. Look honestly at how internal or external forces could threaten your role and equip yourself to make preemptive decisions about your career path before your choice is taken away from you.
MacDonald quotes Boris Groysberg, Whitney Johnson, and Eric Lin in an earlier MIT Sloan Management Review article: “Whether you decide to make a modest shift within your own company or within your industry – or to switch industries altogether – will depend on what your diagnosis uncovers, your own career goals, and what options are realistic for you.”
4) Don’t underestimate yourself. When contemplating a potential promotion or new position it’s common to feel you might not be the best fit for the job, particularly if you have sculpted the role you have now to suit your personal skill set. MacDonald says research shows women are particularly prone to under-evaluating themselves. Refuse to talk yourself out of applying for an opportunity you want to go for. And also be aware of this potential scenario when hiring.
5) Keep yourself mentally match fit. Negotiating the ever-changing modern business environment is a challenge. MacDonald quotes MIT Sloan Management Review editor Paul Michelman, who asks: “What does it take to keep pace in today’s super fast environment, one in which we are expected to pivot repeatedly toward new ways of working?”
His conclusion is that leaders need the characteristics of “will, skill and velocity” to keep pace. Developing and demonstrating these personal qualities can make a major contribution towards your career trajectory.
If you’re ambitious and motivated, following these five steps could help to keep you at the front of the crowd as you stride forwards.