Where Do You Sit In Your 'Career Car'?

Knowing this could move your career up a notch, says Michael Podolinsky.

Do you have a career or just a job? Start by asking if you are the chauffeur, navigator or the owner of your “career car” and plot a new route to move your career up to the next level.

The chauffeur: This person drives the car but does not make decisions on where the car is going. Someone else, a boss, spouse or in-law tells you what you need to do and where you need to steer your career. The chauffeur has little control over the direction of the “Career Car”, often feeling more like a servant, a person forced by circumstance to drive in unfulfilling directions or even circle the same block over and over. “You NEED this job.” “We are behind on the mortgage.” “You don’t have the education or experience for...”

The navigator: The navigator determines the direction of the Career Car, but not entirely on his own. Direction is based on destinations assigned by others. No one says “turn left” or “circle the block” like what the chauffeur hears, yet the location is chosen for you. “If you want to get ahead, you must...” “Keep the boss happy and don’t rock the boat.”

The owner: The owner owns his career; the boss is a client and workers are “my team”. This elevated position allows the owner to question ideas, take breaks as needed, set a good example for the team and never feel “obligated” to go to work. Instead, the owner is in career control, respected and on the expressway to upward mobility.

Eight tips to be the owner of your career:

  • Be proactive and ask your boss about your career path and what you need to learn. Volunteer for projects which will stretch you and delegate away those you've mastered. If you're in a supervisory role, encourage your team by talking to them about their career paths. Give them reasons to take on new assignments and grow.
  • Treat your boss like a client and colleagues like your customers. Serve like a restaurant owner serves top clientele.
  • Keep your Career Car's petrol tank full. Full of energy (eat right and exercise), full of motivation (read, watch and listen to successful people) and full of new ideas. Owners must maintain their car. Stick to your core skills, passions and strengths. Write down what they are, reviewing and using them daily.
  • Set long-term goals and back them up with short-term actions. These are your roadmap to success.
  • Volunteer to help others outside your team. To get promoted, you must know more than your own area of responsibility.
  • Get mentored: share your mentor's advice to guide others. Be a service kiosk of information.
  • Have fun. Make your meetings and workday fun through involvement, sharing, food and simply enjoying the ride.

What will you do to truly be the owner of your Career Car and to help your team become the owners of their Career Cars as well?

A Singapore PR, Michael Podolinsky is a cer tified speaking professional and author of Productivity: Winning in Life (McGraw-Hill, 2011, available at major bookstores). He is a 22-year veteran trainer for the Singapore Institute of Management. www.MichaelPodolinsky.com.


    Jan 5, 2012
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