As a coach, I hear many a sad story about managers, no matter how well-intentioned, who don’t have the time to mentor my client’s careers, or don’t have a clue, or don’t possess the necessary leverage. Even in the best of companies, where talent development is a high priority, the ultimate responsibility for your career is yours. It’s downright dangerous to leave it in anyone else’s hands.
Leadership expert Heather McKissick, interviewed on a recent installment of the “Women Connected” podcast, drives home what she calls “lesson number one”: you have to manage your own career, no matter what level you’re at and no matter how supportive your organization is.
You can’t expect anyone anywhere to take leadership of your life.
McKissick herself has recently managed a career move, from Leadership Austin, where she served as CEO, to University Federal Credit Union, where, as a member of the executive team, she drives human resources and organizational development.
Your career, McKissick says, requires your initiative. She offers an elegant three-step plan:
- identify which skills you want to develop
- find ways within your organization to develop those skills
- look outside the walls of your organization to develop those skills
Within your organization, look around for both traditional and non-traditional pathways to skill development. For example, look to join cross-functional teams or committees. And don’t overlook community service, where you can find opportunities for professional development and give back at the same time.
Engage, serve, and develop the skills you need.
Community engagement as professional development is grossly neglected, McKissick says. If you want to learn budget management, for example, then go find a nonprofit you believe in that needs help in budget management. It’s legitimate resume-building.