02/10/2014 05:40 pm ET Updated Apr 12, 2014

How to Take Charge of Your Career

Jesse Sostrin is the author of "Beyond the Job Description: How Managers and Employees Can Navigate the True Demands of the Job." He is also a consultant and an executive coach who focuses on leadership issues and diagnosing workplace problems. Sostrin spoke with Tom Fox, a guest writer for On Leadership and vice president for leadership and innovation at the nonprofit Partnership for Public Service. Fox also heads up their Center for Government Leadership.

Q. In your book, you talk about the hidden curriculum of work. What does that mean and why is it important?

A. The number one challenge that every employee faces is standing out and getting ahead of the change curve over the course of their working life. In order to do that, you have to go beyond your job description to add increasing value to the organization while you confront the unexpected challenges to getting great work done.

This is the hidden curriculum of work, and it includes a wide range of performance barriers -- from everyday hiccups such as communication breakdowns and change fatigue, to more elusive barriers such as performance whitewashing, where all priorities are treated the same.

I expose the hidden curriculum of work so that people can answer the question that keeps them up at night: "How can I resolve the challenges that nobody talks about, and in ways that will make me a better professional and help me excel over the course of my career?"