What Ails Thy Career?

Do you think you are a good performer who does his job well with full sincerity and always achieves the best outcome, and yet the results are not helping your career? Have you ever thought if there were other factors beyond just getting the right quality deliverables out at the right time, that contribute to success in your career?

As you go beyond ‘trading your skills for money’ roles to more managerial and leadership roles, skills that are normally called ‘soft’ come into play a lot more than you would like it to.

  • While your thick bhaiya accent was fine when Java was your primary skills, when you are needed to manage a team to get a task done, it could become a drag.
  • Rambling may have been fine when you had the side chair in a meeting room and spoke only when spoken to, it is super critical to be able to ‘tell a story’ when you are at the head of the table with a bunch of folks that are waiting to be led from the front. Now imagine yourself with a microphone and a floor full of people, or a wireless mic in front of a stadium full of employees that are waiting to be inspired. Can you extend that to external stakeholders like investors, customers, suppliers and competition eagerly watching you?
  • You could walk out of a ‘stuck’ situation with your manager, but imagine your manager walking out of a ‘stuck’ situation with you. Now if you don’t have respect for that manager, can you really walk out from a similar situation when you are a manager yourself? You have to learn to negotiate, get to a resolution which works for both. Walking out is no longer an option, my friend.
  • As long as you are an individual contributor building something on your own, you could care less about ‘networking’ but as soon as you come to a team leader situation, where your and your team’s success is dependent on your ability to leverage a host of other resources in your firm, can you really do without great ‘networking’ abilities?
  • You hate Powerpoint and whiteboards, do you? Tsk tsk, that needs to change, and change soon enough; for you need the ability to communicate what you and your team have been upto and do it darn well because your team deserves it. As their leader you have to represent their work to the rest of the world in a way that it deserves.
  • Don’t like conflicts/fights? You are not much of senior leadership material then. As you take on more responsible roles, your teams typically start to get better team members, because they made it till there since they are the best. Now you need to lead a team full of folks that think they are the best and get the most optimal outcome as a team. Expect fireworks! If they are not happening by themselves, light one, make it happen.

I have talked to enough mid-career folks who do not give enough importance or mindshare to developing some of these skills and barely consider the importance to their growth. Unfortunately, the glass ceiling will get only closer to your head if you decide to continue to be ignorant.