We recently worked with a male executive in the fast moving consumer goods space who made a decision to change his career direction. His name is Bob. He had been working in a training function and loved helping other people grow and develop. Bob had some aspects of his job that were draining, e.g. lots hotel stays, long days, and a boss that was a micro-manager who didn’t give him a lot of opportunity to really lead. Bob was working in a world of crisis, last minute fire drills and stress mainly driven by his small work team. Bob was simply managing the day-to-day and fighting fires.
One day Bob decided to take a risk and stop doing what he had always done. He saw a new internal job posting that revolved around talent and training. He expressed interest through the appropriate channels, interviewed and obtained the job. Bob was elated and eager to start his new role within the company. Many of the people that worked with Bob begged him to reconsider and stay in his current role. He made their lives easier and did a good job. Bob knew in his heart that he was on a career treadmill and it was time to go outside and take a new route.
Bob felt a lot of fear and uncertainty in making this career shift. He said to me, “I have always been a product trainer and not a talent and training expert. I know I work hard and learn fast but I am still petrified of not succeeding.” Bob started doubting himself and was afraid he may not perform to the expectation level. The reality is Bob has always succeeded and his past performance earned him the new job. Everyone else sees Bob’s strengths and recognized the value he brings to the organization.
It has been two months since Bob has been in his new role. He has worked extremely hard and been driven by the energy of meeting so many new people and learning a new set of skills. Time flies and Bob is leading new initiatives and rallying people behind his ideas. He is really leading. He said, “I am so happy and motivated to grow and develop.” As his soft skills training provider and coach, we see leadership in action. We have watched two other predecessors in this role try and take orders and not push the limits of what is possible. The job fits Bob like a glove and he is utilizing his natural born talent of people skills, decision-making and accomplishing goals.
Leadership is about clear communication, dreaming big, taking risks, believing in yourself and others. If you are being led by a micro-manager, ask to be the lead on one specific project. Use words like “I would like to grow my leadership skills. Will you allow me to lead this project from start to finish?” Leadership can happen in any conversation but you will never receive something you don’t ask for. Clear communication is about stating your intent and being strategic.
Invest in your career development. Take the time to attend a training seminar, webinar, read a leadership book, or participate in an online class, as this will build your confidence and knowledge base. Push outside your comfort zone and say yes to learning and trying new things.
If you have a career that is leading you it is time to start planning your next career move. Don’t get stuck in a career rut and continue doing things as you have always done them. Have a career by design, not by accident.
Kerry Preston and Kim Zoller are the co-authors of Enhancing Your Executive Edge. (CLICK HERE to get your copy). Preston and Zoller are partners at Image Dynamics, with more than two decades of experience building successful, highly customized coaching training programs for Fortune 500 companies around the world.
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