Do you know someone today that is dealing with a disruption to their career (e.g., restructuring, transitioning from military to civilian work, maternity or paternity leave, burned out, etc.)? Remember when it last happened to you or someone close to you? One way to lessen the impact or even potentially turn it into a positive is to focus on developing critical skills.
Continuous Skill Development
Three essentials of continuous development: 1) acknowledging that the more we learn the less we know [of what’s available], 2) curiosity and a questioning mind, and 3) prioritizing what to focus on.
The first two may come naturally or require exercising self-will. The third we suggest 7 areas to select from that can serve most careers well over a lifetime.
Areas of focus for self-development
1) Influence: The ability to influence is required to take a vision, concept or goal to reality requires getting others to follow your lead. The more original dynamic or complex the environment the more critical is the ability to influence others.
2) Collaboration: The ability to communicate, share ideas, listen and shape actions and decisions with others is essential to working with complex organizations that include co-workers, consultants, customers, vendors, partners, etc in a variety of settings from digital, virtual and in person.
3) Decision Making: The ability to exercise sound thinking and independently reach sound conclusions is essential to solving difficult or new problems. The quality of thinking has a direct bearing on the ability to be strategic, influence and sustain efforts to reach desired results.
4) Resilience/Drive for Results: A drive that persists and as obstacles are encountered, they are dealt with in a positive, reality-based way. Personal energy seems to elevate even under adverse conditions and impossible challenges. This competency is essential in nearly every condition but specially where original or novel results are expected and/or the circumstances encountered are unknown.
5) Learning Agility: The ability to apply past lessons learned to different circumstances is essential for dealing with dynamic, rapidly changing environments. Learning agility enhances the speed and effectiveness of mid-course adaption or pivots based on new information.
6) Developing Self, Others and Teams: Objective insight into strengths, opportunities and goals of individuals and team. With this insight the leader sculpts through available opportunities assignments that grows capability. Diversity is a priority to round out the team and efforts are made to hear diverse perspectives to reach better decisions.
7) Strategic Thinking: The ability to be inventive, curious and solve problems with new insight requiring creativity and frequent reframing of the problems and opportunities to allow new perspectives and solutions to emerge.
These can be measured, shaped, and cultivated. It is not common to be great at them all, the key is to figure out which you have a knack and passion for and align your career path toward positions that value this. Finding an objective source of truth about what you have under the hood and your gaps is an important first step. The next is to know what your position requires, your gaps, and how to close them. Try to think beyond today’s position into the future so that you can begin now to hone the competency that will differentiate you for that position. FlightPath uses the Hogan Assessment to get at this
This discussion of continuous development would be incomplete without covering time. Consider thinking about using time in 3 ways: tactically, strategically and with vision. Reflecting on the focus area, in the tactical phase you identify direct tasks that give you an opportunity to learn, eg., maybe taking a course, meet a mentor, volunteer, read a book. In the strategic phase perhaps you imagine roles and accomplishments that will allow you to experience more and learn from your experience. In the vision phase you reflect how learning this area of focus deeply it will help produce a legacy that makes all the effort worth it. As time unfolds what you thought of as strategic will drive your future tactics and your strategy will be rearticulated as your vision becomes more clear.
Tactics (now to 2 years out)
This is all about tackling gaps and objectively evaluating whether you are on the right path for you. The actions should be specific, time-bound and the impact clear.
Strategy (3-7 years out)
This phase should be more strategic, or in other words, describe where you will focus and how you will make an impact. For example, if you envision yourself starting your own business by this point in your career you will select the focus of your business and decide how best to go about it. Should you buy into a franchise that matches your strategy, join with partners, or go it alone.
Vision (7-25 years out)
This phase should be more visionary or describe the legacy of your work or why it is compelling to you. For example, if you envision running your own business how large has it grown, what is your role, what impact is it having on customers, employees, and community.
Developing skills in the real world
Alison, an HR professional, wanted to broaden her career from being a recruiting specialist to a business partner, which is broader role with more upside potential. It required strong influence among other competencies. She sought out opportunities to take these responsibilities on part time and with support from her network and manager she identified a client group in Information Technology that she could take on to learn and practice her influence and HR skills. She did this for six months and encountered some significant challenges and received plenty of coaching. She went after this assignment knowing that if successful, she would have found the bridge to a career path with virtually no ceiling. She did a great job, helped her client group through some changes and managed core HR duties and earned the respect of her clients. A decade later she is now the VP of HR for a large business unit of more than $2 B in annual sales.
“As we step into new roles and new experiences, it’s important to take the time to understand how we each uniquely learn new skills. A skill that I can recall developing as I transitioned into HR is influence. In my experience, developing this skill required taking time to build relationships with my leader/clients and teams to ensure that I understood their priorities and challenges so I could see things from their view and in turn tailor my approach to fit the situation. ”Alison McKay, VP Human Resources
News about Career Authority
In the last newsletter we shared that Career Authority is a semi-finalist in theMN Cup Competition, for start-ups with big ideas that can help change the state of MN! We have been appointed two mentors:
Toby Nord, who is the professional director of Carlson Ventures Enterprise, a unique year-long program for full time MBA students designed to teach entrepreneurial skill through experiential learning; and
Ron Reimann who founded, run, or purchased five businesses as a small software company serial entrepreneur, and is currently CEO of Giftster.com.
We are working on several deliverables by July 23 and could use your feedback on this survey. The results are anonymous and will take less than 3 minutes to complete.