Most of the executives I deal with tend to perceive their careers with a very short term perspective. They consider the job now and in the next 2 years. They find it difficult to put «a future in my avenir» while wondering on the what, the where, the how?… Questions that remain open!
In writing this post I want You to understand how You build yourself professionally and mostly how You can smoothly manage the transition between the 4 main Career Cycles and use that to launch You to the next level. Though critical moments, these transitions are seldom foreseen or even prepared for.
“To Discover”… The Learning Cycle
At the beginning of your career, the key issue is to step into the system without being too selective and to continue the flow of the learning process after completion of your studies whatever they are.
You were given the opportunity to break the rules with your fresh and sometimes idealistic approaches. «Out of the box» ideas, openness, curiosity supported you in exploring the world of business. Having few constrains, «hopping» from one position or employer to another was quite easy… not to say required because the objective was to maximize experiences. This explained your volatility in starting the process of discovering both the system and yourself in the context of work with the idea to clarify your preferred business functions.This is why this first cycle is called the Learning Cycle.
«To Have»… The Credibility Cycle
Once a preference is decided, an orientation is taken consciously or not, the objective is to capitalize on this choice and to plot one career path.
Time has come to accept your responsibilities, to deliver well with the objective to be rewarded, respected and promoted. Your goal is to be efficient in doing the job right and to deliver above expectations. The doing and navigating in the system prevails.
The implied logic is that the better you do your job, the faster you will be recognized and rise up in the organization. You are identified as HiPo (High Potential) and put into the career tracks known to ascend to greater heights. Your boss is the client, your colleagues are the competition!
You are experiencing moments of intense activity and public limelight that enhance your career. Proven results and sustainable performance are the key indicators that measure your above average engagement and efforts (time and energy). The aim is to obtain a mix of recognition, money and status.This period of « To Have » is called the Credibility Cycle.
«To Be»… The Legitimacy Cycle
In making the organization work, as you progress in your career, there is somehow a feeling that performance is not enough anymore. A perception that the way we deliver is more important than the content of the job itself. The scope of the job is larger, vaguer, most often more complex. Leadership, people behaviors and frame of mind combined with risks such as hidden agendas, politics, power games, and external constraints should be considered too.
Within this context, the solution is to find a sense to the why, the what and the how You are doing. The search for a meaningful purpose in your career is a must in order to find the thread line of your professional activity.
Put emphasis on observing and analyzing this cycle will minimize the danger of a «mid-life crisis» and avoid «to have broken away from the pack». Why not consider a transfer in another department or branch? A move to another Company? Go for a partnership? In other words just look after You and know yourself while blending in and integrating the context, the system and focusing on the HOW.
Respect your values, instincts and vibrations. Align/connect your brain, your intellectual capacity with your heart, your emotions and finally with your body. Your health will heavily contribute to improve your reputation, your image and your inspirational leadership. The «why questions» will be explained, clarity will emerge. The legitimacy cycle is to be in the right job, the one you have chosen (compared to doing the job right as in the previous cycle). This cycle is called ‘To Be’ or Legitimacy cycle because You focus not only on doing, but on being yourself.
“To Give Back”… The Sharing Cycle.
You have cumulated a huge amount of experience, of know-how, of networks and connections. For what use or for whose benefit other than You or your employer (on a short term)? Time has come to convey what you received and learned over the years, to give back to the community of your choice, all the wisdom, the unspoken rules, the undercurrents, the pitfalls to avoid for the pleasure of sharing. It is the most enriching part of our business life… because giving is free.
Cultivate-nurture the relationship. Your role is to listen, to help others with their work. Be the conciliator, the referee, inspire others to move forward and make them feel special. What a privilege, a fantastic role and a unique opportunity to engrave a sense of legacy in your whole career journey. At the end, the most important thing in business life is to help others to win.This is the purpose of the Sharing Cycle.
Career cycles are cumulative, not sequential and not necessarily linked to age.
We add them on by layers and they are fully integrated simply because we permanently and relentlessly learn, develop, share what we are and what we know.
Recognizing yourself in one of the above cycles means that you will smoothly transition to the next one in full awareness, anticipating and influencing your future success.
Remember : «There isn’t any road to happiness in managing our careers. Happiness is the road. So enjoy every moment, every step, every cycle.»