Many ambitious young people, as they scramble to build their careers, fixate on the progress they’re making through the organizational hierarchy. They measure their success and articulate their goals in terms of titles (“I don’t really care about the job, I just want to be a VP as soon as possible”) and staff (“In my next job I must have people reporting to me”). Ah, the self-absorption of youth! Yes, it’s natural to keep personal ambitions in mind. But career success doesn’t come simply by focusing on your own wants and needs. It’s achieved by finding roles that have the most impact on the organization’s success.
People who do this demonstrate a number of skills that are essential to achieving career progression. They reveal a depth of understanding of the organization’s business just by knowing which job has the highest leverage on corporate results. A willingness to sit in that hot seat shows impressive confidence in one’s abilities and the reflex to jump in to make a difference is a clear sign of leadership. Choosing high-impact jobs is also an indication of motivation that is well aligned to the needs of the organization and it’s stakeholders. In fact, volunteering to step into the breach for the sake of the company reveals a depth of commitment that is a sure sign of senior management potential. Finally, working for the satisfaction of accomplishment in a challenging role instead of for the reward of career progression shows genuine maturity in an individual.
So, by worrying about the organization’s success rather than your own, you end up demonstrating a number of highly valued management traits:
Line these characteristics up against those displayed by the hotshot who is obsessed with his title (self-absorbed), worried about his compensation (self-interested) and longs to manage people (power hungry). If you were a CEO looking to fill a seat at the executive table, who would you be more inclined to choose for the job?