Career Management is Part of Leadership Behavior

By Caroline Dowd-Higgins

You need to be in control of your career destiny so it doesn’t happen by default and learning to manage your career is something every professional woman can do. Whether you are contemplating a career reinvention or looking to jumpstart an existing career to reignite your passion – you need to know the essential tools for survival. After interviewing 350+ women around the world for my book: This Is Not the Career I Ordered; I have compiled valuable lessons applicable to every working woman from entry-level to C-Suite executives. I’m eager to share these action steps at the Silicon Valley Invent Your Future Conference on April 24th [register here].  Let me whet your appetite with a few salient points from my session.

Assemble Your Personal Board of Directors

I am a firm believer in the power of a personal Board of Directors.  The it takes a village philosophy is alive and well but you need to mobilize your people so they know how they can help you. It’s important to seek out their collective wisdom effectively.

When seeking your Board of Directors look for a variety of people including an Accountability Master to hold your feet to the fire on goals you aspire to achieve. A Motivator is essential to keep you focused and enthusiastic about your career game plan and a Connector will help you enhance and develop your network. Your Strategist is a visionary that can help you map out the big picture while a Specialist might include anyone from your accountant or lawyer to your personal trainer or physician. You should assemble a myriad of supportive people to help you navigate different segments of your career journey.

Manage Up

Many larger companies are bringing in consulting firms to assess staff efficiency and fiscal responsibility. If your boss doesn’t know what you do well, chances are, he or she won’t be able to tell someone else why you shouldn’t be let go or be promoted.  You must tell your superiors what you are accomplishing on a regular basis. Consider sending a monthly email with your achievements, goals met, or solutions provided. Good news is rarely shared so take advantage of this opportunity to showcase your worth. Anonymity is dangerous – be seen, heard, and speak up so others know what you are accomplishing.

You should also observe your boss’s behavioral and communication style. Is she fast-paced and quick to make decisions? Is she slow to think about things and want time to process? The more you can match your style to your boss’s style when communicating, the more she will really hear what you’re saying.

Every time you approach your boss, try to imagine what he cares about. What do you know about the view from his seat? Can you frame comments in a way that make him feel that what you’re proposing or doing benefits him?

Find out your boss’s preferred method — email, in person drop-ins, or lengthy memos — and be sure to pass along information to her regularly. Most bosses don’t like to be caught unaware. Even if your boss doesn’t ask it of you, tell her what’s going on — keep her updated. Managing Up should be a regular part of your career management strategy.

Take a Seat at the Table

The table is wherever you are in your career. You need not be at the executive level to be seen and heard so be sure to tap into your professional power and make yourself known.

  • Show Up – be present and position yourself wisely.
  • Speak Up – communicate concisely, clearly, and confidently. State – don’t ask, and stop apologizing!
  • Stand Out – showcase your emotional intelligence; increase your visibility by seeking out opportunities to impact change. Have a point of view.

Become your own best self-advocate and chart your career destiny by becoming pro-actively involved in your career management. I look forward to seeing you at the Invent Your Future conference on April 24th in Silicon Valley.

About the author: Caroline Dowd-Higgins authored the book and maintains the blog: This Is Not the Career I Ordered® which showcases her savvy professional development advice and women who are thriving after a career transition or reinvention. As Director of Career & Professional Development and Adjunct Faculty at Indiana University Maurer School of Law, she coaches law students on how to prepare for the realities of the world-of-work in the legal arena and beyond. Dowd-Higgins also maintains an active private practice coaching individuals and corporate clients. She speaks nationally on professional development topics specializing in the success of women in the workforce. She writes for the Huffington Post, America Online (AOL), CNN Money, and More Magazine online in addition to a column for The Chronicle newspaper in Northern Indiana. Her work is syndicated internationally by major media venues. Dowd-Higgins hosts: Career Coach Caroline, a weekly national broadcast on CBS Radio, Tuesdays at 5pm ET and she is currently working on a special for Public Television on career and life empowerment for women. 

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