Career Development: Steps to Accelerate Your Career

Develop your career good and better and one day you too can climb the ladders to corporate heaven!* (might not actually happen*)

Before you plan out your career, make yourself a momentum, and that is not as easy as you think because creating it takes a lot of effort, and not instantaneous. These kinds of things don’t happen in one night, it could even take years to get there. And so, below this article I’ll give you guys some specific steps in more details to tell you exactly what you can do to accelerate your career:

How you think matters most

Just because you get into a senior position that doesn’t just mean that you’ve more salary, more responsibility and bigger teams and that’s all there is to it. Like any new positions, they still require new skills and behaviours, which means your current success never equips you for more senior roles. And from here, you need two critical psychological mindsets:

1. Growth. If you have a fixed mindset, you believe your strengths and weaknesses won’t change much. This view will trip you up at more senior levels. Developing a growth mindset is a powerful mental asset.

2. Learning agility, or the willingness and ability to learn from experience, then applying that learning to perform successfully under new or first-time conditions. Because you’ll be doing things you haven’t done before, learning agility gives you the ability to be successful without relying on your past.

Success doesn’t equal technical expertise

Being a leader doesn’t mean that you have to be the smartest person in the room, solving all problems you see. As a senior leader, your best value comes from helping your teammates and/or employees to achieve their potential and solve their own problems, whether by themselves or collaboratively. One good idea is to expand this a little at a time. Start taking on ancillary functions and learn to feel comfortable with trusting people (since you’ll have no choice). Equip people to solve their own challenges by not stepping in with the best answer.

You can build this gradually by providing people with what psychologists dub “just about manageable” challenges — tasks that can be mastered when someone is operating at their best but not when they don’t strive, or just focus on building a strong team to create collective trust. Ask curious questions, be vulnerable, don’t cast blame, and treat failures as learning opportunities. In other words, just don’t be an immature brat when you find out you’re not as good as you think you are. Just take it in stride and learn from it!

Learn how to be more influential but less controlling also

The bigger and broader the group for which you are responsible, the more you’ll have to accept that you can’t control much at all, and what you can only give trust and influence. It’s like moving from making your own computer to having to hope the computer another person made is good enough for your standards.

Influencing skills are critical. Learn how to persuade and negotiate from mentors, direct experience or formal development programs. A good place to start is to change your mindset from “how can I make it?” to “how can we all make it?”. Invest time in understanding other people’s needs and then loose up your approach. Make sure your needs are met while meeting the needs of others.

Take a broader view

The higher you go, the more you need to see the business from many different angles. This is another area where you need to become more trusting of people in general, y’know — in this case, recognise that putting the overall business’ needs before those you directly manage will be rewarded, not punished (if your place doesn’t do this, that’s probably not a good place to work at, so get out while you can!)

You can do this by getting more involved in more projects or taskforces to learn more about business areas that aren’t your own, or even apply for a job in a different function, company, industry or country. Who knows, Japan might need someone with, say, a much more cultured outlook than their more narrow-minded salaryman equivalents!

Manage your emotional impact on others

Neuroscience shows that the more senior you are, the more your feelings shape the feelings of others. It is hardwired within us that our emotions be influenced by those we see as “the tribal leaders”.

Obviously, while you should always be yourself, senior leaders have to strive to be their best selves — all the time. When they let negative emotions leak to those around them, the consequences for business performance can be massive. Check any moods that might have a negative impact on others — feedback from peer evaluations will be particularly helpful here — and track what provokes these moods. Think about any negative personal and professional influences, like sleeplessness, professional conflict or even the time of day. Use strategies such as mindfulness, cognitive reappraisal or distraction.

“I believe that whatever your career goals are, what company do you want to join, as long as you have created your momentum then you have a career plan, you can achieve that.”

Written by: Callasyah Erwinanda (Copywriter of Apiary Coworking Space)

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