Be Aware...of Career Derailers!

I recently contributed content for an article on career derailers - skills, abilities and actions that can keep you on-track or "derail" your career. My approach to managing potential career derailers is to think and plan ahead. Take action now to ensure that your decision-making yields productive and positive results. Focus on what you can control and deliver value as a leader. Key thoughts to consider: Effective Communications Skills

  • The best leaders are frequently talented communicators
  • Leaders are focused on a "bottom line" or key message in all communications to staff, employees and investors
  • Leaders are transparent, open and honest when at all possible
  • Leaders do not yield to the overly positive tendency of many leaders that are looking to keep people happy by over-stating benefits, value, results; this works in the short-term but long-term will backfire and serves as a trust tax
  • Impactful written and oral skills are rare and often an excellent differentiator - my coaching to up-and-coming leaders is to invest time in oral and written communication skill-building education, practices and techniques
  • Practice, practice, practice - take every opportunity to present, be on panels, share ideas - it's the only way to learn

Acceptance of Change

  • Some leaders operate in the mode of things working "fine" don't need to be changed
  • Some leaders will outwardly / vocally support change but behind the scenes and in decision-making situations, will fail to support perceived challenging change situations
  • The best leaders take change projects and lead them; provide resources to make them happen; bring in experts to facilitate change
  • Sometimes this means replacing strategic resources to prove focus on change

Ability to Think Strategically

  • Many leaders evolved through the ranks and never were able to shed their propensity to stay in the details; manage initiatives at the activity level; step out of the details and coach / mentor managers and direct reports; this takes away from time that should be spent on the bigger picture
  • Challenge is lack of vision, focus, strategic objectives
  • Typically deliver well in specific areas but not overall across multiple competing objectives thus making the leader ineffective
  • The best leaders know where to go for information and are able to discern what is important - they know how to get the most out of their network and organizational resources

Unreliable Performance

  • Leaders deliver results
  • Leaders are pioneers
  • Leaders ask questions when others sit back
  • Leaders take on new challenges and menial tasks at times to move the ball forward
  • Leaders must be able to hand-off activities, tasks and projects and expect the work to get done without having to get involved in the details; unreliable performance is a "tax" on the organization and literally slows-down and pulls-down key initiatives