6 Real World Facts About Managing Career and Priorities in Business

6 Real World Facts About Managing Career and Priorities in Business - seldom taught at business school.
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  6 Unavoidable Real-World Facts About Managing Career and Priorities They   say   experience   is   the   best   teacher,   but   sometimes   that   experience   can   involve   the   expenditure   of    time,   frustration,   and   the   thought   ‘I    wish   someone   had   given   me   this   advice’   rather   than   having   learned   the   hard    way.   Here   are   six   things   I   have   learned   in   the   real    world   about   managing   career   and   priorities   ...   things   they   don't   often   teach   in   business   school.   Managing Career and Priorities – Real World Learning #1 If you don't plan and manage your own career don't expect someone else to do it for you It   is   naive   to   believe   that   an   employer   has    your   best   interests   at   heart.   Employers   invariably   have   their   own   best   interests   at   heart,   and   if    these   align    with    yours   that’s   a   bonus   …   and   this   may   be   the   case   at   a   certain   time,   and   not   the   case   at   others.   I   believe   if     you   have   a   good   employer    you   should   seek   to   satisfy    your   career   aspirations    within   that   company   as   the   first   option.   Always   remember    your   employer’s   level   of    commitment   to    you   is   probably   in    writing   somewhere   …   and   it   amounts   to   maybe   1,   2   or   3   months’   notice   or,   if     you   read    your   contract   carefully,   this   as   severance   pay   and   for   no   reason    you   have   any   control   over,    you   could   be   called   to   an   unexpected   urgent   meeting   at   5pm   one   day    where    you    will   be   told   this   is    your   last   day   in   the   o ce.    You   may   have   no   control   over    what   is   done   and    what   is   communicated   thereafter   and   it   is   not   unheard   of    to   be   figuratively   shot   in   the   back   on    your    way   down   the   stairs.   Thinking   ‘that    would   never   happen   to   me’   is   also   naïve.   This   is   not   an   encouragement   toward   disloyalty   to    your   employer,   but   take   a   cold   look   at   the   reality   of     your   employer's   true   commitment   to    you.    Why   should    your   commitment   in   return   be   any   greater?    Managing Career and Priorities – Real World Learning #2 I have so much to do today I must spend the first two hours in prayer Martin   Luther    was   also   right,   regardless   of     your   type   or   level   of    religious   persuasion.   In   this   classic   paradox   he   has   two   things   to   say:   Firstly,   keep    your   priorities   in   the   right   order   and   don't   allow   short   term   demands   and   pressures   to   prevent    you   from   giving    your   best   to    your   higher   calling,   be   that    your   God,    your   family,    your   dreams   and    your   desires   or    whatever   that   may   be.   Secondly   the   more   busy    you   are,   the   more   important   it   is   to   resist   the   temptation   to   rush   into   things   headlong   but   to   stand   back,   consider,   plan,   prioritize.   I   can’t   emphasize   the    work   prioritize   enough.    When    you   are   under   pressure   to   do   many   things   in   a   limited   time   frame   it   is    very   hard   to   resist   the   temptation   to   simply   make   a   start   but    without   planning   and   thinking   carefully   that   could   be   the    wrong   place   to   start,   and   actually   cause    you   more   e #  ort   to   undo   and   start   over   in   the   right   direction.   This   is   easy   advice    yo   give   in   theory   but    very   di cult   to   implement   in   practice:   that   doesn't   mean   it   is   bad   advice   ...   but   as   the   old   saying   goes,   it   can   be   tough   to   stay   focused   on    your   objective   of    draining   the   swamp    when    you   are   up   to    your   armpit   in   alligators.   Managing Career and Priorities – Real World Learning #3 Icarus was right. If you fly too close to the sun the wax holding your wings on will melt, and down you go!  Your    work   occurs    within   the   eclipse   shadow   cast   by    your   immediate   superior,   and   this   association   –    whether    warranted   or   not   –   may   present   both   challenges   and   opportunities.    When   a   CEO   leaves   for   any   reason,   his/her   direct   reports    are   likely   to   be   in   the   direct   firing   line   for   the   new   CEO.   Conversely    when   a   superior   is   promoted   or   given   another   position,   there’s   a   good   chance   their   gravitational   pull   may   benefit    you   as    well.   This   issue   can   be   beneficial   or   harmful   and   is   like   having   a   patron   or   sponsor   -    when   the   going   is   good   for   them   it   is   likely   to   benefit    you   as    well,   and    vice    versa.   Naturally   there   is   a   flip   side   and   that   is   if     you   happen   to   be   closely   aligned   to   a   ratbag,   then   chances   are    you    will   be   tarnished   by   that   person's   reputation   -   as   the   saying   goes   'if     you   lie   down    with   dogs,    you'll   get   fleas'.   The   best   advice   is   take   time   every   now   and   then   to   consider    your   position    vis-a-vis    your   close   alignment    with   current   or   former   superiors,   how   this   is   likely   to   be   perceived,   and    whether   that   is   likely   to   be   detrimental   or   advantageous   to    you.   And   always   remember   -   perception   is   reality.   Managing Career and Priorities – Real World Learning #4 The biggest mistake a strong leader can make is to surround themselves with similar people. Regrettably   it’s   also   the   most   common   mistake   made   by   those   in   senior   leadership   roles.   “Type   A”   leaders   –   the   ones    with   attributes   like   energy,    vision,   drive,   capability,   ambition,   (and   their   houseguests   of    impatience,   arrogance,   intolerance,   hubris   and   so   on)   often   find   it   di cult   to   see    value   in   those    who   don’t   exhibit   the   same   characteristics,   and   so   over   time   tend   to   surround   themselves    with   ‘clones’   of    themselves.   This   tends   to   be   a   blind   spot   to   many   leaders    who   are   able   to   point   out   this    weakness   in   others   but   are   unable   to   apply   the   same   analysis   of    their   own   attitudes   and   behaviour.   This   leads   to   imbalance   and   is   something   a    wise   leader    will   seek   to   avoid.   Relatively   few   senior   leaders   have   the   self-confidence   as    well   as   insight   to   see   this   as   an   important   issue.   And   it's   not   unheard   of    for   a   previous   leader's   'unbalanced'   team   to   be   'rebalanced'   by   his   or   her   replacement,   and   under   the   delusion   of    'diversity'   simply   re-creating   an   equally   unbalanced   team   that   is   a   reflection   of    the   incoming   leader's   bias   and   blind   spots.    Managing Career and Priorities – Real World Learning #5 The second biggest mistake a string leader can make is to weed out those who don't agree with him or her, which leads to becoming cut off from any dissenting or diverging perspectives. In   the   days   of    the   Roman   Empire    when   a   conquering   Caesar    would   return   to   Rome   and   head   a   procession   in    which   the   people    would   praise   and   applaud   him,   it    was   the   role   of    his   most   trusted   bodyguards   –   the   Praetorian   Guard,   to   accompany   the   chariot   and    whisper   ‘remember   Caesar,   thou   art   mortal’   lest   he   start   to   believe   the   adulation   of    the   people.   Far   too   many   CEO’s    would   see   such    words   as   negative,   or   disloyal   and   the   giver    would   be   quickly   unwelcome.   The   result   can   be   the   individual   leading   an   organization   becoming   completely   cut   o # from   any   real   communication   that   doesn’t   get   sifted   by   someone    who   is   pre-selected   only   to   transmit   in   a   certain    way.   It’s   a   big   danger   and   more   common   that   it   should   be.   Allowing   and   heeding   dissenting    views   can   be   uncomfortable   however   a   good   leader   needs   to   take   care   to   have   channels   of    communication    where   advice   and   information   can   be   obtained   from   all   perspectives,   and   not   censored   deliberately   or   innocently   by   a   group   of    individuals   all    with   similar   outlooks.   In   large   organizations    with   a   professional   Board   or   independent   external   Directors,   it   is   imperative   that   Directors   take   on   this   task   of    challenge,   provision   of    alternative   perspectives   or   the   'devil's   advocate'   role   if    the   CEO   demonstrates   a   reluctance   to   be   exposed   to   this   from   subordinates.   Managing Career and Priorities – Real World Learning #6 It takes a special type of person to both survive and prosper in large companies for any length of time. Performance and ability are just small parts of the equation.  Just   as   intelligence   tests   can   be   described   as   a    way   to   rank   people   according   to   their   ability   to   answer   intelligence   tests,   so   too   long   term   success   in   a   corporate   situation   may   have    very   little   to   do    with   performance   or   capability,   and   more   to   do    with   the   ability   to   adapt   to   the   corporate   culture   and   survive   the   changes   of    manager    you   are   exposed   to.  
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