I’ve received a lot of good advice over my career, but none better than when I was considering a promotion and consulted a colleague about adapting to the new role. I asked if I would have to change myself to match the corporate culture, and he told me, “Doe, the reason they asked you to take on the role is because they like who you are.”
That’s why I always advise leaders to be themselves and to focus on creating their best work. The key to a successful career is figuring out what’s important, determining how you can add value and then doing the best you possibly can.
Networking and making connections are valuable, especially if you use them in purposeful ways related to your work or where your individual skills can help the business. Networking is not about self promotion, rather it’s about adding value.
The best leaders, from my point of view, are those who understand that their success comes from how their people work. Once again, it’s all about being true to who you are and being authentic with your people. Good leadership means your team understands and supports your vision. At the same time, you need to understand what your people need and be able to communicate clearly how they can help the team reach its goals.
It’s also very important to maintain a sense of humor and have fun while you work. People who enjoy their work are invariably more productive and innovative. We all work too hard to not enjoy what we do.
Finally, I believe that in order to achieve a successful career you must have a comfortable balance between your work and your family life. I started with Target part time at l6 and enjoyed 20 years with the company. But shortly after my son Jesse was born, I realized that retail’s nights and weekends schedule was putting my life out of balance.
When my baby didn’t want me to pick him up one night, I knew I had to change. Five weeks later, I joined Grainger. I was very lucky to find a company that truly values its employees and enables me to have better balance. It’s always a challenge and I have to make it a priority as I manage my schedule. I work hard to not miss the important things at home. This enables me to be true to myself and still deliver my best work.