A few months back when I was changing roles internally, I was asked to share my thoughts on the topic of ‘career success & development’ in the all employee meeting of the departing business unit.
In preparation, I started to research online and some popular books on the topic of ‘career success & development’. One common theme that screamed from those books was reference to C level execs and what they did/do to be successful. Very high level & strategic stuff, great stories and lots to learn from. But, I wanted to give some very tactical suggestions during my presentation that someone who just started their career journey (0-5 years experience) can start to implement from the following day.
With that said, I started to think about some of the best leaders I have worked for in my career and what qualities, actions and strategies they adopted to be some of the most successful leaders within the organization.
Career journey success stories need not always be about leaders with 25-30 years of experience. I have had some SUPER STAR employees who have have had significant growth in a very short period of time and my peers were always after me to get those folks in to their teams because of the difference these folks could make in the teams that they were a part of. I am sure that some of them are going to hold some of the most powerful positions in some of the leading corporations in the world.
And that moment was an eye opener. The biggest learning and development for a leader/manager need not necessarily come from their manager/leader but can come from their own SUPER STAR team members as well. I wrote down a list of all the highest performers who have been a part of my team(s) in the last 10+ years and as expected there were some common themes among all these individuals in terms of the way they operated and their recipe for success. These folks have never met each other before nor worked in the same organization but have figured out the recipe for success in whatever they did and were able to cook it well.
This is such an important piece that we tend to ignore, i.e. having a recipe for success at workplace. What is your recipe for success? How are you going to differentiate yourself from the crown? What is your roadmap to success?
Now back to my super star team members. The recipe that I was talking about that made these folks so magical is;
Change. With a huge smile: Change is so inevitable, so unavoidable. Sometimes even as a senior leader, you don’t have too much of an influence to change-the-change that is already kicked off. Now, you have two options from that point.
- Change with resistance & negativity about the change (But still change, you dont have an option) OR
- Be the advocate for the change, Be the leader
Let me make sure that I am clear. I am not saying that one should be a ‘YES MAN or WOMAN’ and not challenge the change that doesn’t make sense to the organization. Thats the responsibility of every single employee. But in this situation, I am referring to organization-wide changes that are of strategic in nature (For example; the system and tools disintegration resulting in significant changes due to a business unit spin off). These kinds of strategic implementations will drive significant changes on the ground and my super star employees have used these to their advantage of showing leadership and problem solving in these situations which made them stand out of the crown and assets to the team they were a part of.
Think above & beyond your pay grade: This is easy to say/write but hard to action. For any initiatives that my super star team members undertook, they came back with solutions that were far more strategic and long term focused than the actual outcome that was expected by me or my leadership. Their solutions naturally factored all potential factors involved, stakeholder & customer centric while essentially balancing the cost act. There was a clear indication of thought leadership and a holistic exhibition of the thought leadership in action.
Don’t over plan, Don’t over think. JUST DO IT!: My personal favorite that I used to love these folks for. The speed of execution and rigor. These are result driven employees who do spend significant amount of time planning but once they realize they have a plan, they GO FOR IT and MAKE IT HAPPEN. The go getters.
Build the brand of YOU: Last but not the least. Have you ever thought of your personal brand? What is your brand? Do you have a brand? What does your leadership think of you for? Successful employees were definitely all rounders but had a brand for themselves. You see the personal brand at work everyday in your office and the significance of it in one’s career. Think of following examples;
- “Let’s call Lisa for this one, she is THE best in predictive data analysis”
- “We need Jake, If you want this metric to improve by next month then we NEED him”
- “This is a very complex project involving a lot of senior exec communication, I am not comfortable with ANYONE else other than Arjun doing this”
Do these examples sound familiar? Successful employees in organizations have their personal brand and they also did a fantastic job selling it. Obviously, your personal brand comes with a track record of success in a speciality.
There are different ways to look at the recipe for success and is also largely dependent on the individual, team dynamics and organization. But the key is to have a recipe, document it and being able to cook it to be tasty and healthy for your long term career.
About the Author: For more information, contact Balakarthik Venkataramanan at firstname.lastname@example.org. LinkedIn Profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/balakarthikv.