We all hear talk about things that can kill your career. A missed opportunity? Bad presentation in an important meeting? Lost customer? While these things won't help your career, they certainly don't define your overall career path. So, what are the things that can deal a devastating blow to your career?
Here are the real career killers:
Mixed Results - A track record of hits and misses when delivering on goals will hurt your career. Companies are looking for consistent performers - individuals who they can count on to repeatedly meet expectations. Some people make the mistake of thinking once they've met a few goals they're not under the gun to continue contributing at that level. In order to advance your career you have to constantly prove yourself. Consistent performers get promoted; others are perceived as a risk. This applies to positions throughout the organization, entry level to CEO.
Not Developing Your Team - If you really want to be selfish about your career take care of the people who work for you. The only way you can move up is by training and developing the people who report to you and, importantly, identifying and grooming your successor. Don't get so wrapped up in the day-to-day tactical issues that you fail to spend time training your team. By developing your team you are strengthening the organization and its competitive advantage.
Not Accepting Responsibility for Failures - The mark of a true leader is being able to stand up and hold yourself accountable when something doesn't go according to plan. The buck has to stop with the person in charge and if you're that person step up to the plate. No one gets to the top without their share of failures. Taking responsibility demonstrates integrity which is highly valued. You'll be viewed as someone the organization can trust because you're honest enough to own-up.
Taking Too Much Credit - Some people think that giving others credit reduces the impact of their contributions. The opposite is true. The more you credit others the more it positively reflects on you. Real leaders know how to motivate their teams. The best way to motivate someone on your team is to give them recognition for what they have done.
Failure to Learn from Mistakes - A CEO once told us that his management style was to create an environment that eliminated fear. He wanted people to feel free to take risks, but said, "You had better learn from your mistakes". We all make mistakes. The key questions to ask yourself are "What did I learn? What could I have done differently? How can I prevent it from happening again?" This learning will serve you in the future and give your boss confidence that you have the self-awareness and insight to grow from the experience.
It's critical, especially in these times, to avoid doing things can derail your career. Keep tracking how well you're measuring up in these important areas, otherwise your career will stall.
Fred & Gladys
Executive Search and Coaching
Authors of GOAL! Your 30 Day Career Plan for Business & Career Success