We all grew up hearing that if your work hard and do not give up, there is nothing you cannot accomplish with hard work. You will often listen to people who have made it to the top of their career say that they made it due to hard work.
This is undoubtedly true in individual accomplishments such as running a marathon. But in the business world, your success is influenced by those around you. So, what are the most critical factors to improve my chances of success in my career?
First off, I am not saying that you do not have to work hard to be successful because hard work is essential. But the vast majority of those you are working side by side with also work hard. Hard work and resilience are the baselines for success. You need to do something more to differentiate yourself from the rest of the hard-working group.
Assuming you work hard and have good skills, here are the three factors that will most impact your success in your career in order of importance.
In the corporate world, “the room where it happens” is a meeting or discussion where leaders from various leadership positions and human resources discuss the performance and potential of your team and individuals.
No matter how hard your work, how high your competency, and your potential, you will not be chosen if no one in the room speaks up for you and shares that critical information. The discussion tends to be quick and to the point, with only the highlights of each candidate being reviewed. Someone of influence must speak up and champion your skills, competency, and potential.
How do you get someone of influence in “the room where it happens?”
Your direct supervisor may not be in the room, may not hold any power, or may not want to utilize their capital to champion your cause. You will need to find a person of influence in the room and ask them directly to champion you.
Ask them what skills, competencies, and experience you will need to move to the next level.
Let this person of influence know about your experience and give relevant examples. You will need to sell yourself then ask them to champion you. If they put themselves out there for you, you must deliver or lose your credibility.
Remember, if you “fear” taking the risk, do not worry; someone else will take the risk instead of you and get that promotion or project.
Like sports, a good trainer or mentor can help you improve your skills and competencies. You must not only be good at your current position, but you must have the skills, competencies, and experience for the next level you are trying to reach.
When a promotion or projects are on the line, leadership will look for someone good at the current position but, more importantly, someone they believe has the potential for success at the next level.
If you are currently working on the line level and your core competencies are hard-working, positive attitude, and will jump in to help anyone falling behind, that makes you great at your current position. The core competencies for management level might be delegation, holding others accountable, and strategic thinking.
Know competencies or project you would like to reach, then find a mentor/trainer to teach you these skills. Ask for opportunities to get experience at taking on small projects to hone those skills. Ask your mentor to help you get exposure to leadership while displaying those competencies.
Your mentor does not need to be your direct supervisor, and it needs to be someone who has the skills and experience you are looking to learn. Do not expect any mentor to appear and ask to train you magically. It would be best if you took the risk of finding this person and asking for their help. Be resilient in finding a mentor and try to find the reward for them if they mentor you.
We would all like to believe that we can be successful wherever we work, but your probability will increase or decrease depending on what company you choose. Why would you not choose a company that gives you the best chance of success based on your skills, competency, and effort?
Choose a company that values, embraces, and takes bold action to drive diversity, equity, and inclusion in their business.
In their mission, vision, and values, most companies will state that they embrace diversity, equity, and inclusion, but is it reality or just rhetoric?
According to the Harvard Business Review, due to unconscious bias, most hiring managers and leaders have a high probability of seeing the best and promoting employees into the next position or project that reminds them of themselves, or they have a shared experience, education, and thought process. If you don’t look and think like the leadership team and continue working for these companies, you see a significantly reduced opportunity to move to the next level.
You must look beyond their mission, vision, and values on their website. Look at the company’s senior leadership team and the direct leadership team you will be working for. If it is 90% white cisgender non-disabled males, they will continue promoting white cisgender men without a disability to the next level.
Instead, look for a company with senior leadership and your direct leadership team that looks like the diversity of race, gender, disability, sexuality, and thought closer to our actual population.
This company will have taken real action to address unconscious bias in interviewing and promotions, have transparent pay standards, and make diversity improvement part of their leadership key performance indicators for bonus and pay. You will have an equal opportunity to move up based on your effort, skills, and competencies in these companies. The McKinsey study of 2020 has also shown that companies with diverse leadership teams will perform at a 30% higher level with profits or growth compared to non-diverse companies.
Finding the right company that will value your diversity of experience, education, and thought process is the keystone to your success. You can’t depend on luck to get you to the right level but instead, work hard in the company that gives you the best opportunity to be recognized for the value you bring to the table.
Take the first step towards your professional success with the help of DEI Recruiting and Consulting. We are eager to spotlight you as a qualified candidate for the job of your dreams.
Contact us today to schedule your consultation with a member of our team.