I am not sure our numbering system goes high enough to count the number of blog posts, books and articles that have been written to help you improve your leadership and management skills. There are apparently quite a few of you really screwing it up.
I’m much more interested in how you are doing leading and managing your professional self. And I can say with some authority, most of you are screwing it up. Don’t think so? Can you answer all three of these questions with a “Heck Yes!!!”
- I am actively developing the “what’s next?” in my career.
- If I lose my job tomorrow, I am prepared. My network is robust and active, and my resume is up to date and ready for use.
- I can clearly explain who I am professionally to anyone who asks.
If you can answer yes to all three, you can stop reading and go reward yourself with a cupcake. But I’m guessing those questions made you cringe in self-recognition as you whispered your no’s.
It’s easy to be lulled into the belief that your organization will look out for you, or that you are so valuable as to be assured lifelong employment. But really, your career is yours to lead and manage. It can’t be outsourced, delegated or ignored.
Let’s work toward three yes’s, shall we?
I am actively developing the “what’s next?” in my career.
Put your head up once in a while and commit to putting some effort into identifying what you are interested in doing next. Is it moving up a level in your current department? Moving to a different functional area? If there is nothing inside your current organization that appeals to you, commit to researching what else you can do in your industry, within your function, or in your professional community. It’s out there, but it isn’t going to knock on your door. And if it did, if you are 100% focused on doing your company’s bidding, you may not even hear the knock.
If I lose my job tomorrow, I am prepared. My network is robust and active, and my resume is up to date and ready for use.
Ah, yes, the network. If you are like most, you spend very little time thinking about it, let alone building or really developing those key relationships. If your entire professional network consists of your current colleagues, that is a problem. Connect with professional or industry based associations, and yes, actually attend meetings. Make it a habit to reach out to people who you want to keep as your professional relationships when you don’t need anything. If people only hear from you when you want something, your reputation as a user and a taker will be well deserved. And as far as that resume goes, even if it’s not ready for prime time, I beg you to at least keep a file of your accomplishments, preferably at home, should the unexpected happen and you lose your ability to access your work materials.
I can clearly explain who I am professionally to anyone who asks.
Yep, this is the dreaded “tell me about yourself” question that we never give much thought to until we are in a job search. I never understood that. If you are really leading and managing yourself, shouldn’t you be crystal clear on what you are leading and managing? Ask yourself what you want people to know about you. And if your career is in sales and marketing, apply the same principles to yourself as you do to your products and services. Hint: your answer should not start with “I work for the ‘X’ company.”
If you are committed to leading and managing yourself, you must embrace the idea and practice aligning yourself with your professional skills and experiences. Who are you professionally? Don’t know? Sounds like a good starting place to me.
Photo (Flickr CC) by Bill Strain