I’m very fortunate to have had a great career, good luck, and great co-workers. Management coaches tell you that, for a successful career, you must: work hard and smart; be persistent and resilient; and work to make an impact. After more than 25 years of professional work, I believe a few additional pieces of advice served me well.
A key success factor for me has been an ability to see myself with clear vision. Self-awareness is something that I learned when my first manager told me I was about to be fired due to a bad attitude. I was completely surprised by his assessment, and desperately wanted to keep the job. So I did some soul searching, realized he was right, and made the necessary changes. Self-awareness has proven to be afoundational element of my work life.
I’ve worked for several great companies and great leaders. The most rewarding experience I had was working for a leader who believed in my capabilities and was willing to give me honest and insightful feedback on my performance. I was given an opportunity to take on a new challenge when I became a general manager. I applied myself to the job, using my experience, skill, and dedication to achieve success. But the most successful aspects of the job were the personal changes that I made based on the feedback of my manager.
Being in a senior position with significant responsibility is a great learning ground. You make decisions that have impact, and you deal with problems daily. Having a manager who is willing to provide honest and frequent feedback, in a supportive manner,has made it possible for me to learn, adjust, and ultimately succeed.
I’ve also had my shareof difficult situations, partly due to my own level of maturity or to differences in management styles. One manager I worked for was highly successful and very smart, but his style differed significantly from mine. I struggled to succeed in the environment for some time, but eventually assessed the situation as a misfit and moved on. Many styles are successful, but not every style can be made to work for you.
Clearly assess your skills, work with a team compatible with your management style, and be willing to change when things aren’t working. Applying these ideas, in addition to working hard and smart, has given me a very rewarding career.