Friday, June 04, 2021

What Factors Might Derail Your Career?

Source: Career Advancement Blog
Elena Lytkina Botelho and Katie Semmer Creagh have published an HBR article titled, "What to Do if Your Career is Stalled and You Don't Know Why."   In this piece, they describe research on what has derailed the careers of successful managers as they try to reach the C-suite.  Botelho and Creagh analyzed the circumstances regarding 113 talented individuals rejected during the final round of the selection process for C-suite roles at their companies.  They found three sometimes misunderstood factors that explained the derailing of many successful careers: 
  • Executive presence: "This is an ill-defined catchall for a multitude of issues from the seemingly trivial but career damaging body odor, to deeper challenges, such as when someone doesn’t carry herself/himself in a way consistent with company culture. Often executives who fail to appear confident get comments about lackluster executive presence."
  • Communication style:  Candidates stalled if they seemed too academic or cerebal, appeared to be too long-winded, failed to engage people with effective storytelling, or if they used "I" instead of "We" too often.  Sadly, some also stumbled because they spoke with a significant accent.  
  • Peer-level relationships:  Some candidates received stellar reviews from their managers, but failed to connect well with their peers.  They were perceived as too competitive, or perhaps too interested in personal vs. team success.   The best candidates demonstrated a more effective ability to persuade and influence their peers. 
What's the lesson for individuals trying to protect against a future career derailment?  Be sure to gather feedback on these issues, not just your ability to deliver results or accomplish important tasks.  Don't assume that silence on these issues from your boss means you are performing well along these important dimensions.  Ask about these factors, seek out advice from mentors, and find ways to work on your personal development in these areas.  Be proactive, rather than being vulnerable to a surprise derailment in the future.  

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