In the early years of my career, I found myself constantly taking on special projects and other tasks that were indirectly linked to my specific role. Truthfully, while many colleagues argued that I was being exploited by management, I always felt that I was quietly and purposefully building the foundation necessary to set my career on the right path.
Sadly, “soft skills such as taking accountability, exhibiting passion and consistent use of initiative are not traits widely practiced by many of today’s young professionals.” In discussions with other business leaders recently, there was almost unanimous agreement that too many employees wish to advance their careers yet refuse to build the foundation necessary by “actually putting in the work”. In some cases, even refusing to accept accountability for their own professional development.
As a consequence, it is now remarkeable easy for leaders to spot exceptional team members who make a difference and are prepared to stand up and accept responsibility. This situation calls for further consideration as we examine why many employees are so unwilling to accept accountability, even at times when it falls squarely within their deliverables. Could this approach be due to fear of failure, lack of employee engagement or is it just downright laziness? As an eternal optimist, let’s examine the dreaded “F” words a little closer, as these tend to have a more crimpling effect on self-development.
“Believe it or not, fear and failure can both be used to our advantage and can ultimately lead to positive career advancement.”
It has been proven time and time again that employees who are not afraid to lead while actively learning quickly develop important leadership skills. The real benefit of stepping forward is in highlighting your ability to meet multiple deliverables, which helps to expand your scope, capacity and more importantly, positions you as a dependable self-started.
Does this approach require some level of sacrifice? Of course it does!
Will you always reap immediate rewards or recognition? Definitely not!
Employees that are not captivated by fear and those willing to make an intentional effort to step outside of their comfort zone to take on more responsibility are generally more exposed to decision-making techniques. This also helps to raise capacity levels, which collectively results in new learnings and company-wide exposure.
The reality is that new opportunities will continue to be presented in the work environment and leaders are always looking to spot new talent. Quite frankly the selection progess in recent times appear slim. What advice would I therefore share with young professionals seeking to advance their careers or to excel in their current roles?
There really is no secret recipe; however, employees must be willing to step forward and stop hiding behind defined roles or fear of failure. In order to stand out amongst your peers and be taken seriously, view new tasks, projects or assignments as a real opportunity to enhance both technical and soft skills, while helping to shape your professional progress.
In today’s rapidly changing business enviroment, this approach will also provide an opportunity to develop five core skills (5 Cs) that are absolutely necessary to achieve success:
- Increased Capacity
- Effective Communications
- Ability to make new Connections
- Critical Thinking
While I appreciate that this approach may cause some to ponder. Rest assured that if you are truly serious about your professional progress, it is absolutely important to build a core foundation. Be intentional about embracing these important leadership competencies, which will better position you not only to get ahead but stay ahead….