What should I be thinking about as an emerging leader after spending a decade in one organization, post graduating? It’s a question I’m asked on a regular basis from millennial leaders. They’re often unaware of the possibilities and options in the external market place or simply what they should be thinking about to nurture their career.
The most common example is the early 30’s leader who has worked super hard and been progressed almost unconsciously through their formative years. They join typically a larger organisation out of school or university and display the right attitude and aptitude to which they’re identified by management and consistently promoted every few years. It’s fun, its rewarding and its certainly challenging. It’s a rapid learning curve with no obvious reason to pause and reflect on where or why your career is heading in a certain direction.
Until that is they hit a point in their life where something makes them stop and think and for the first time question where they’re heading and why? Most likely causes are personal relationships or a new born, a major change of boss or it could be a company restructure…or in some cases a moment in a hotel on another continent sitting and wondering why you’re spending more time travelling and less time doing what you love with who you love.
This is a type of ‘awakening’ where you go from what I call an ‘unconscious career state’ to a new normal where the organisation you were once wedded to and have grown up with suddenly seems less appealing, the people seem less aligned and the future doesn’t necessarily have their logo printed on your CV…a thought unfathomable less than 6 or 12 months prior.
If you’ve been through this moment you will know its actually quite unnerving. It doesn’t fill your head with possibility and it certainly doesn’t make you think the worlds your oyster. Quite the opposite in fact, you know a change is imminent but you also know you’re ill equipped for what lies ahead. You think; Who do I talk to? What do I do? What if my team or boss realise my heart is no longer in it? How will I interview when I’m working? and most common thought of all…I’m known to my friends, family and partner as having all this work stuff figured out but almost overnight it seems like I really don’t.
If this sounds like you or someone you know firstly its completely normal and secondly you shouldn’t panic. It almost always works itself out and there are tips and advice to follow to ensure your career continues on its intended path.
“The best advice I provide to emerging leaders is to treat your career like you would your fitness or financial goals. You have to seek advice and have the career periscope up on a periodic basis so you aren’t starting from scratch when its time to move on”.
Be methodical, understand you aren’t the expert and seek the right counsel and advice to ensure you reach your desired destination. Most of all don’t sit and apply to jobs online until you really know what it is you should be doing next.
The most common feedback I receive from emerging leaders is that they struggle to find relevant information about organisations and potential roles that fit their skill set. The internet is full of information perhaps too much and its hard to sift through to get to the core. It also doesn’t help that every company is saying they’re better, faster, stronger, fitter than the other…makes it hard right? So therefore its critical you find someone who you can trust to guide you in your chosen industry.
“Someone who can put your interests above theirs and offer an independent helicopter view. Speaking to a mentor and a friend is great but it doesn’t compare to seeking independent expert advice from a person who truly understands the pulse of the market”.
Careers are delicate things, they’re also hard and sometimes painful and don’t come with a set of instructions. We spend so much of our lives at work or thinking about work and we know that passion for what we do and cultural alignment are critical ingredients to a fulfilling job. Therefore I would encourage you to talk about your career more openly and nourish your understanding of where your skills and experience can take you. We live in a world where things can change almost daily and you need to be prepared, stay ahead and look after your greatest asset.