SpringBoard: A Career Redesign Workshop

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A career redesign workshop for executives who value purpose over promotions.

This October, CapitaPartners will be hosting SpringBoard, a two and a half day experiential program where executives fashion a professional career that is driven by purpose. Guided by internationally recognized executive coaches, participants link their strengths and values to professional satisfaction.
Reconnect with your passion. Build a legacy. Make fresh contributions.
Join us October 15 -17, 2015 in Santa Barbara, California.
Learn more and register here. And consider sharing this with a friend or colleague.

Roads not taken: Considering the opportunity costs of career choices

Which track?

Most of my conversations with job-seekers focus more on finding jobs than on making career or life changes. This makes sense. My corporate clients are practical: they need to know if and how the candidate’s leadership skills, motivations, and competencies match the needs of the organization. Most of my candidates are not out of work; they tend to view their career as a linear trek up the ladder. They’ll ask if the opportunity provides more responsibility, challenge or pay.

And yet every step up the ladder has an opportunity cost: the road not taken. The conversation on “career changes” forces executives to ponder deeper questions relating to their basic motivations, aspirations, and dreams. What am I good at and why? What if I did follow my dreams? What are the consequences of not taking the big leap? How realistic are my aspirations? What’s blocking me from achieving them or even taking the first step?

Most of us don’t take the time to envision our future. The recent Great Recession forced many executives to re-examine their careers only after they found themselves out of a job.

When is the right time to ask these questions? Probably every year if you want to make sure your career doesn’t head off down a track you didn’t intend.

These are meaty conversations for career coaches, spouses, mentors, priests, and best friends – someone with no axe to grind, who has no other agenda than to help with your career choices and life goals. There are books written on the subject and you’ll also find links on the right side of this blog. Most of these articles or guides provide “tips” rather than start with the unique needs of the career-changer.

It wouldn’t hurt to open up to executive search consultants when you get the call – if you can find one that will care about you, the person, not you, the candidate. But the conversations need to start somewhere. If it doesn’t start here and now, then when is a better time?

The body of work: A career is not a ladder, but a zig-zag path through experience

Yesterday a young candidate asked me, “If you were me, what would you do? Go for this new position, stay and get promoted, or wait for something better to come along?” He seemed bewildered, almost distraught with the weight of his decision.

We’ve all experienced this feeling. I said to him, think of each career step not as a ladder to climb, a good or bad decision, but as an opportunity to stretch yourself, gain insights, and learn new things. Your career will be marked by the total body of your work.

By constantly selecting — devouring — opportunities for personal development (isn’t this what a promotion is?), you will differentiate yourself, prompting others to take notice because you become a solution to their problem. The result, over time, is advancement. The path is not linear or always up. It is a zig-zag road defined by failures, heartaches, satisfaction, and celebration. Responsibility is heaped on those who don’t always aspire to it.

Meanwhile, back to our candidate. Rather than grab every new experience that comes his way, he’ll need to establish his bearings. What is he good at, how does he need to develop, and what is his ultimate destination? The sign-post marking ‘stay’ or ‘leave’ should be based on which direction provides the best or fastest opportunity to acquire the skills and competencies that are critical to reaching his goals. Waiting for the promotion is a mindset that often results in getting passed over. Clarity of purpose will lead to a life of surprises.
Just for fun, take a fresh look at Yojimbo, the Japanese period film directed by Akira Kurosawa. Toshiro Mifune portrays a masterless samurai, or ronin, whose counsel is sought by rival gangs because of his unique ability to provide a solution to each. I’m reminded of the film because the main character also faces a fork in the road. His achievement is measured by his terms.

Zig-zag your way to the top


Another 540,000 jobs lost in the United States last month. Unemployment inching towards ten percent. Don’t despair. Those of us who are not economists are no longer pessimists.

Now that the knee-jerk-driven 10 percent job cuts have hit the P&L and revenues have bottomed out, CEOs are doing their spring cleaning with more thought, believing that now is the time to re-deploying a tighter and tattered workforce more effectively around the real work that needs to get done.
The requires that bosses get a firm grasp of a narrower strategy and know the in-house capabilities of their people. They need to understand the strengths of their leaders, plug the gaps, find the fast learners, and move to implement the new organization fast. There will be a few more lay-offs, but the result will be a more motivated and relevant workforce. Welcome to a more productive phase of the recession.
If you’ve managed to emerge with a new and interesting job, you’re one of few lucky ones. Here’s what you’ve probably done, more or less: You’ve accurately assessed your company’s strategy and the capabilities necessary to achieve success. Then you’ve assessed your own competencies in light of your company’s strategies and did a good job of communicating with your boss about your personal goals and development needs. You were proactive but also empathetic about the needs of the company. All of this takes some honesty, humility, and a willingness to grow during these bleak times. Don’t wait to get shown the door. Take the time to figure this stuff out. If you’re job hasn’t changed, don’t take your company’s narrower strategy for granted.
The willingness to see the upside of a lateral move is a sign of maturity. This recession will slow your progress up the ladder. But don’t let it slow your personal and professional development. For better or worse, seize the fruits of a zig-zag career.
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