Russell Borland

As coaches we have worked with hundreds of aspiring and accomplished leaders.  Based on this experience, we have identified 5 actions you should do to supercharge your career this year:

1 Take Personal Responsibility for your Career

Don’t wait to be asked to stretch yourself with new opportunities, to take on a higher level of responsibility or to attend a development course – be proactive and seek them out yourself.  You are best placed to drive your career.  So don’t be afraid to ask your manager for what you want; the worst case is you may be told no, but at least you will know the position and even then you may be able to negotiate some sort of compromise.   If you come across impenetrable roadblocks in progressing where you are, seek another position within the same organisation.  Failing that, consider moving to another organisation where the road forward is more open. 

2 Spend time thinking about your ‘ideal’ role and what you need to do to achieve it

Think about what you would like from your career.  It could be that you want to progress in the organisation, take on more responsibility or broaden the opportunity set of interesting challenges.  Or perhaps you wish to enjoy your current role more and/or to achieve a better balance between work and other interests in your life. Whatever you have in mind, think about it holistically in terms of what else is or may be important to you in life.  You may conclude that you need to brush up your technical skills, but very often to progress to senior roles it is helpful to develop your leadership, client management and new business skills.

3 Be Aware of your Strengths and Development Areas and put Effort into a Personal Development Plan

Don’t waste your time and energy in comparing your success or lack of it to others.  It is an invalid comparison as you are not comparing like for like.  Someone else may seem to have it all, but you do not know what sacrifices they have had to make, how they feel or what help they have had.  And how do we define success?  We are all unique, so the only true comparison we can make is with ourselves.  As such, it is more meaningful to seek to improve the competencies that will help you achieve your career objectives.  If you wish for example to enhance your leadership skills, obtaining feedback from a range of people who see you in action is invaluable.  Make sure you ask for feedback on what you need to do to reach a higher level of performance, not just ‘how have I done’ which is too backwards looking.  Then in 12 months’ time, repeat the exercise.  What you are looking to achieve is an upward trend.  Condense the feedback into a personal development plan where you set yourself stretching but realistic goals for self-improvement.  And keep going.

4 Develop your Network

Networking is about building long-term relationships and your reputation over time. It involves getting to know people who you may be able to assist, and who can potentially help you in return.  It takes time and effort but will be a worthwhile investment throughout your career. Your network includes your work colleagues, business connections, your social network and friends and family.  Fostering relationships with your contacts is mutually beneficial.  You can raise your professional reputation and broaden your access to opportunities, work through challenges and gain satisfaction from assisting and connecting others in your network.

5 Come Across as Collaborative and Positive

Seek to develop collaborative relationships where you get known as someone who wants to help the team achieve its objectives, not just your own.  To do so effectively, you will need to lean on your insights about your own strengths and weaknesses and how you are perceived by others.  Ideally, you want people to both value your contribution to the team and enjoy working with you. It’s easy to find fault in others or the organisation we work for.  Try to bring positive energy to your work and the relationships you have.  This does not mean ignoring or glossing over challenges, but instead is about offering a practical step forward that people can get behind.  Expressing a positive vision of the future, and how others might get there, is a powerful motivator and will elevate you as an effective leader in the minds of others.

Which of these might you focus on this year to supercharge your career?