In talking with many professionals about their career, I often hear them reflecting and saying ‘I was just lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time’. For many, this right time and right place afforded them rapid career progression, opened the door to key networks and positioned them for next steps in their career journey. Invariably they were exciting and challenging times that were rich in reward and stimulation. Confidence, clarity and choice seemed to abound.
What happens though when it’s time to consider your next career step and this ‘luck’ doesn’t seem to be quite so apparent? Or when you need to transition as a result of market or organisational changes? How do you take proactive action –especially in today’s highly volatile environment – to leverage your career background, knowledge, skills and networks?
Too often these changing career scenarios and market conditions can leave individuals feeling irrelevant, trapped and without choice or control. If we aren’t careful these feelings can all too easily lead to moments of paralysis, where because we don’t know what to do, we do nothing. Learning how to not only identify the right opportunities but also transfer your knowledge and skills to match the new business or market requirements is critical.
As George Bradt notes in his Forbes article Creating Leverage When None Seems To Exist we all run into roadblocks however it is our ability to adapt, adjust and create leverage in times when there doesn’t appear to be any. The key word here is ‘create’ and not just merely identify. As he notes this comes down to attitude about roadblocks and the need to ask am I simply accepting them as the status quo or am I looking for ways around them?
Like many things, creating leverage in our career requires planning and time. One of the most dangerous things we can do is to not take consistent action whilst we are in a role and business that we enjoy. Leaving it until we want to embark upon change or worse still when it is forced upon sees us trying to create leverage in a time that is often highly emotive, stressful and time pressured.
As part of creating leverage in your own career, I would encourage you to take action with the following 6 factors in mind:
- Identify what you stand for: Today we are increasingly being asked to know what it is that we stand for in our careers. It is essentially your over arching career mission – what do you hope to impact, who and how. Is it tied to an industry, a key challenge, leading through core business cycles; innovation, empowerment or other?
- Define your core expertise: Clarity on exactly what your core strengths, knowledge and leadership styles are, is essential in identifying and attracting the next opportunity.
- Understand how you are regarded: Knowing how others perceive and regard you and your expertise is essential if you are to know what you can leverage or conversely need to overcome.
- Educate yourself on the market: In order to understand what is transferable you need to know how what the market /business wants and needs. Failing to do so limits your opportunities to tailor your story and create interest and demand in your background.
- Hone your positioning: All too often people fail to succinctly articulate their knowledge, capabilities and ambitions are. It is essential to gain clarity on each of these areas if you are to engage in meaningful conversations and explorations of an opportunity.
- Connect & reconnect: As noted by Adam Grant, Wharton Business leader and author of Give and Take success has become increasingly dependent on the interactions we have with others rather than on the individual drivers of success such as commitment, hard work and passion. To support our success we need to understand who and how to connect and reconnect with if we are to gain an accurate insight into what opportunities exist and how we can align ourselves to them.
Creating leverage requires a whole lot more than ‘luck’. As the Roman philosopher Seneca notes ‘luck is the moment when preparation meets opportunity’. With this in mind the big question to ask yourself is what are you doing to prepare for that next meaningful opportunity?
As always I would love to hear your thoughts.