Monday, June 3, 2013

Leading and Building a Successful Career.....

According to me, career building is to be on a scenic route and winding lanes. It is never straight. You must be ready to gather experiences along the way, keep learning as you build experience, develop relationships as you meet new people and enjoy as you find new stuff and things to do. 

Keeping open mind and positive attitude to what come along the way is the key to build and lead a successful career.

There is no short cut and there is no easy way out..It is smart work, showing keenness and adopting as you grow along the way.

Leading and Building a successful career involves primary 5 steps:

 (1) goal setting
 (2) personal evaluation
 (3) experience building
 (4) relationship building
 (5) continuous progress assessments

It’s a basic process - determine where you want to go; figure out where you are today; identify what you need to do; and do it.
Goal Setting - Studies show that people who set goals often achieve success and those who don’t generally achieve very little. You need to know what you want and put building blocks in place. 
Set clear and actionable targets for the short-term and long-term.
Personal Evaluation - It’s critical to have an objective and realistic perspective of yourself. You should understand your strengths, weaknesses, and gaps in skills, knowledge and experience (especially in relation to your goals). 

We all have areas in which we excel and leveraging your strengths should be your primary area of focus. It’s unrealistic to expect to eliminate your weaknesses – the key is to make sure they don’t derail you. So recognize your weaknesses and tackle them by limiting their negative impact on your performance and reputation. 

Make sure you get ongoing feedback from as broad a group as possible (trusted business colleagues, managers, family, friends) and take it non-defensively.
Great feedback mechanism is to observe behaviors of people who you respect and compare yourself to that standard.
Experience Building - Simply put, take personal responsibility for your career – you own it. Talk to your manager about your aspirations and discuss options that can get you there.

Always seek opportunities for continued learning, development and growth – read, take classes, ask questions and try to build as broad a knowledge base as possible.

 But most importantly, move around. Studies show that 70% of learning comes from experience, so your best bet is to try different roles, accept stretch assignments or work on different projects. 

Don’t view each opportunity solely through the lens of whether it is a promotion or larger role; assess whether it will strengthen your foundation. 
The genius of Steve Job said this right in his the famous Stanford Graduation speech as his first take way "You can only connect dots backwards, seldom forward"

Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook, described her career as a “jungle gym scramble…I could never have connected the dots from where I started to where I am today,” she said. 
Relationship Building - Per Mark, it's not enough to be good – the right people need to know that you’re good. So you need to build your personal brand. 

How do you do that? First and foremost – be great at what you do. Build a reputation for excellence and have really high standards.  Mark's on of the fav quotes is from the famous National Football League coach Vince Lombardi - “Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.” 

Secondly, always collaborate well, develop strong relationships and don’t compete with your colleagues. Become widely viewed as trustworthy, helpful and team-oriented. 

Third, get your work and talents noticed. Don’t’ shamelessly market yourself, but find a way to make sure people hear your thoughts and see what you do (dialogue, sharing of ideas, selective emails, etc.). 

And fourth, build your network with substance – you never know who can help you in the future. Reach out to people you want to get to know better and engage them or ask for their advice on real business issues (not networking for the sake of networking). 

Key to build a relationship through face-to-face and phone interactions. 
Don’t shy away from difficult encounters or relationships; you need to build effective working relationships even with challenging people.

Focus on 4C's: Cooperation, Coordination, Communication and Collaboration
Continuous Progress Assessments - Always have a critical eye on yourself and self-assess how you’re doing. Are you happy? Are you sufficiently leveraging your strengths? Are your weaknesses becoming less of an obstacle? Are you closing gaps in your knowledge, skills and experience? Are you building the right relationships? You can and should course-correct along the way.
Do what you do keeping things in perspective and always be open to change with time!!

This is a based on coverage of keynote speech by Mark Alexander of Bank Of America - Merrill Lynch during Learning and Development Days (May 20, 2013).

Mark Alexander is Chief Information Officer, head of Technology and Operations for Global Wealth & Investment Management business.

by Roopak Desai

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