Advancing Your Career – An Inside Job

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Anybody who has employed more than a couple of people will have come to the realisation that “you can train skills but you can’t train attitude”; this is not to say that skills aren’t important but all things being equal it is the employee with the right attitude that will get the job or the promotion.

This article is about attitude and specifically your attitude and how it can make you upwardly mobile. American motivational speaker Zig Ziglar was fond of saying, “it’s not your aptitude but your attitude that determines your altitude”; well despite the self-help hype, the latest research from positive psychology and real life experience confirm Mr Ziglar’s maxim.

Your attitude is constructed from your judgments about your likes and dislikes and your attitudes drive your behaviours. For example if you like ice cream you are more likely to buy ice cream and eat ice cream than someone who doesn’t. More prevalent in the workplace might be your attitude to feedback – do you like it and see it as an opportunity to grow and develop your skills or do you dislike feedback because you regard it as criticism? Do you like being given a challenging task because you see it as a mark of trust by your superior, or do you see it as an imposition and the boss trying to get more than their pound of flesh – your flesh?

Your reaction to the last paragraph will reveal your attitude but don’t despair if you thought that I am telling you to work twice as hard for the same pay – there are a number of secrets to positioning yourself as upwardly mobile, so keep reading.

A key attitude of successful people is that of optimism, the belief that things are possible. Optimism creates a self-fulfilling prophesy, because believing things are possible causes us to work towards those things and therefore increase our chances of achieving them. Napoleon Hill, Author of Think and Grow Rich said it this way, “Whatever your mind can conceive and believe it can achieve”.

To further your career you must first believe in your personal effectiveness – the ability to create an effect. Psychologist, Dr Albert Bandura proved that, If you believe what you do makes a difference it will affect your life choices, level of motivation, quality of functioning, resilience to adversity and vulnerability to stress and depression.

The opposite is also true; if you do not believe in yourself, your self-confidence will suffer and you will sabotage your promotion prospects. I received an e-mail recently, from a client seeking coaching, in which she described her panic at being asked to see a client on short notice because her boss couldn’t make the appointment. Her belief was that she must be fully prepared for the meeting or she would be unable to function. Whilst preparation is important, I explained to her that what is more important is the confidence in her ability to ask questions and listen to the client’s responses.

People who believe in their own abilities produce their own future, rather than simply foretell it! Why? – Because they work towards an outcome and interpret all feedback positively.

This ability to interpret results positively, as an opportunity to learn and to grow will mark you as a candidate for promotion. If your organisation is risk averse, you will have removed the risk of your promotion by already operating at a level above your current pay grade.

The secret, as promised, is to see yourself as a brand, as a product that is marketable. Successful brands are constantly communicating their value. So ask yourself, “how is what I am doing adding value to my boss and my organisation?” If you regularly ask yourself this question you will increase your confidence in your personal effectiveness and be able to clearly communicate this at performance reviews and informal meetings with those who matter to your career development.

So in summary, you are in control of your attitude and your attitude affects your results. If you want to move up you must add value and communicate that value; and finally as Thomas Jefferson put it, “I am a great believer in luck, and I find that the harder I work, the luckier I get.”

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