If you want to be the architect of your own destiny then you need to create your own blueprint. Too many people simply leave it up to someone else to offer them a pre-packaged version of success. Inevitably they get bored, burned-out, or wish they had taken a different trajectory or capitalized on other opportunities.
These same people would never let someone else micro-manage other vital aspects of their lives. But in the corporate world we are conditioned to believe that the only way to climb the ladder is to fill a predecessor’s shoes – whether that footwear represents a comfortable and stylish fit or not. Meanwhile entrepreneurs often measure their own success by using the yardstick created by their nearest competitors. Those who really enjoy profound success, however, typically do it on their own terms by planning the process the way an architect plans a breathtaking building.
Even if you are moving into a corporate position created before you came along – or a market previously occupied by other entrepreneurs – your situation will still benefit from some custom remodeling. Not everyone needs to put their house on the market and move, as long as they can successfully add on a room, upgrade the kitchen, or install a swimming pool or tennis court out back. Similarly, you may be in a great position to get more of what you want from your career now without having to leave your organization, rewrite your resume, or invest in a different business.
Fortunately that is becoming easier to do for those who know what they want, because a groundbreaking new paradigm is being implemented and established in this pioneering decade. According to recent research from experts including the authors of the Harvard Business Press publication “The Corporate Lattice: Achieving High Performance in the Changing World of Work,” more people are zigzagging their way to the top rather than following a linear vertical path. This new hierarchical grid helps organizations ensure that their top leaders have a more panoramic view of the enterprise, based on prerequisite experience across diverse departments or areas of operation.
But it also benefits high potential leaders and those in the succession pipeline, because if they know how to navigate laterally and diagonally they can find highly rewarding career situations or entrepreneurial opportunities. They can capture priceless amenities related to a fabulous work/life balance, for example, while simultaneously shifting into position for greater responsibility, power, influence, and income.
What does a promotion really mean to you? Is it a shot at the corner office, a chance to earn an advanced degree in a different field, exciting travel, or being able to stay closer to home and spend more quality time with family and friends? Figure out what you want. Then design a promotional strategy that dovetails those desires and dreams with the needs of your organization. Acquire the skills you need to sell them the package rather than just getting placed into a career box based on conventional roles and outdated 20th century models. You’ll get what you really want while being perceived as an innovative multi-dimensional asset.
I’ll be offering more tips and ideas related to this concept of zigzagging to the top in coming weeks, so stay tuned – and please send me your questions, comments, and feedback!
Sarah Hathorn, AICI CIP, CPBS is an internationally distinguished executive coach, corporate consultant, professional speaker, and the founding CEO of her own company, Illustra Consulting. A career acceleration and leadership presence expert, Hathorn created the innovative Predictable Promotion System™, a 10-step proprietary process she uses to coach managers aspiring to be directors, directors seeking vice presidential promotions, and VP’s eager to ascend to the C-suite. Hathorn served as a senior level executive for a Fortune 100 company for 25 years, and she has more than 30 years of experience mentoring high potentials for rapid career advancement and extraordinary success.
Copyright © 2011, Sarah Hathorn, AICI CIP, CPBS
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