Bold change for America with Elizabeth Warren, identifying your best allies, and focusing the inner critic elsewhere.

Front Line

A career management briefing for
visionary women

Where are your supporters?

We all know that it’s important to have good connections, and, if possible, strong relationships in our network. But what about people to whom you can bear not only the Good, but also the Bad and the Ugly? When we face complicated or tough situations at work or in our careers, the advice we receive should be based on a comprehensive and accurate appreciation of the situation, including those parts that we fear may not reflect well on us. We should also ask ourselves who we can trust to provide us with valuable and impartial advice. The world of work is changing rapidly as organisations contend with a faster pace of change, ageing populations in the West, and highly disruptive technologies and market entrants. It's essential that you have people invested in you, and your career and leadership, and who are willing to provide you with frank advice about what this means for you.

Shame: a candid treatment. Press 'pause'

We take a break from our exploration of the theme of shame this week.

Turn your critical eye elsewhere

As women, when someone comes to us with a problem they have with something we’ve done, we can be quite quick to take it too seriously. Our inner critic is activated and we commence a self-audit: What might we have done wrong? Where does that align with where we already believe we have rough edges? What should we have done better? We are often too quick to focus on ourselves and to turn a critical eye inward.

In fact, the complaint we are faced with might be coming from someone who is having a bad day, frustrated by their own performance, or simply lashing out. Worse still, they may have picked up on the fact we are tough on ourselves, and may be leveraging that in their favour (bullies, dark triad personalities).

Why not practise turning the hawk-eyed attention of our inner critic elsewhere? Instead of focusing it on ourselves, why not focus it outside of ourselves? Who is bringing the complaint and what do we know about them? What legitimises their complaint, and to what extent can that be corroborated? How might the system in which they operate have contributed to the problem they raise?

Good leadership and meeting our own ideals (including fairness and integrity) is not just about being willing to examine ourselves and how we might improve. It’s also about skilfully and perspicaciously judging others, and the systems and circumstances that may moderate and mediate their behaviours and actions.

What do you actually want?

We often get so tied up thinking about the skills and experience on our CV, and working out what that means about the next job or contract we land, that we forget to consider what we actually want to do. The danger with this is that we let what we’ve done before dictate what we do next. Our next career step merely becomes a function of our past decisions, and we are relegated to being passengers on our own career track.

But what if we also factored in where we want to be in the longer term? Is it not possible, if we skilfully and strategically plan out 2, 5, 10 years into the future, that we might find ourselves much closer to doing something we are sincerely passionate about?

It's too easy to overlook who we really feel we are, and how we want to give expression to that in our careers. Personal identity and motivation is an essential part of career strategy and planning, since it provides the steer and the ‘gas’ for where you are going. So the next time you find yourself considering your next career step, ask yourself: What do I really want? What does it mean to me? How can I track a path from where I am now to that? OR How can I integrate a bit more of that into my work life in the future?

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