3 Myths about Building a Successful Career


Increasing pressure to perform and the blurred lines between personal and working life are symptomatic of today’s workplace. Career paths lack clarity and rely on climbing the corporate ladder. Is this really what everyone wants, or is there a better way to build a more satisfying career?

Many people assume career progressions involves increasing specialisation, steadily rising reward package, and a move into a management position. But this is not necessarily a formula for job satisfaction or high performance. Understanding some of these career myths can help you make wiser choices.

Myth 1 – The only way is up

It is a common belief that most employees aspire to achieve promotion, and that a management job is a sign of success. We are driven by a unique set of values that do not necessarily involve getting to the top. Recognising  your key drivers at work can open new possibilities and opportunities.

Myth 2 – Plateauing is a sign of failure

A career plateau is when you have no further opportunities for advancement.  Organisations are much flatter than they used to be and most of us have found there are fewer rungs in the career ladder. Growing your career doesn’t have to mean getting the next promotion. The most successful people in organisations are often the ones who recognise that real influence comes not from a job title, but from the credibility and trust they have built with others in the organisation.

Myth 3 The organisation only values managers

Organisations often make the mistake of rewarding their high performers with a management role – it’s what is traditionally expected on both sides. Does working at a more senior level mean you contribute more? Not necessarily.  There is however an expectation that you will contribute more because salary and level says you should be.  In many cases however,  a promotion to a management role leads to a drop in performance.  Does moving into management from a specialist area mean you will be more satisfied and contribute more? Again not necessarily.  The key to job satisfaction is aligning your personal values and strengths with the priorities of your organisation to create a win-win for you both.

It’s time to think afresh about how you want your own career to develop and who is in charge, you or the organisation.  Where do you want to be in 2 years, 5 years, 10 years time?  The chances are it’s not depth f knowledge that will be the key, but breadth of understanding.  A coach or mentor can help you think that through.  A sponsor can help you put that thinking into practice in your organisation.  Maybe there’s one person in your organisation who can fulfil both roles.  That would be a real win-win-win.


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