Looking back, some of the best moves of my career were also the toughest. Likewise, my biggest shortcomings have become my greatest strength. How?
In my career, I’ve held a variety of jobs across many different businesses. Most brought very steep learning curves and the challenge of earning the respect and support of colleagues who were often much more senior. Today, I have a diverse cross-section of business and leadership experience that I draw upon and, in many ways, this hard-won breadth gives me an advantage. It has also been very rewarding to develop myself and succeed in these assignments.
Early in your career, it is important to build a strong track record of performance and show you can master new areas and deliver on your commitments. With a strong foundation, you are then ready to move on to new positions where you can leverage your strengths, develop some new skills, and grow professionally. Demonstrating that you’ve performed well in unfamiliar areas is an advantage in broadening your career and creates that excitement and confidence that brings out your best.
Early in my career, I received some advice that helped greatly and I’ve always remembered: If you have confidence in yourself, others will have confidence in you. Just as success builds success, so does confidence build confidence.
Throughout your career, you will need this confidence as you develop as a leader and among other things, make decisions that impact your team. Making those critical decisions requires confidence in your judgment. I find that some of the hardest decisions I’ve made were in refining where risk and the potential harm to others was always present.
In the mostly operational roles that I’ve had in my career – from production and technology in upstream to refining, supply and sales in downstream – I’ve found that being willing to contribute in any way possible and treating others with respect and consideration has helped to overcome the challenges I’ve faced.
I’ve also found that if you are clear regarding your objectives and motivations and you listen to the input and advice of others, not only do you learn more quickly but you also create relationships with others who are happy to share their knowledge and help in the collective success of the team. And in the end, the team’s success is your success.