Career fulfilment is everyone’s responsibility. To fulfill your career, you should periodically align the value that you bring to the table to the value the role (or company) requires you to deliver. That’s easy to say, but hard to do.

In this respect, I will provide you three keys:
1) to qualify the contexts of your future leadership role,
2) to qualify the value the role needs to contribute and
3) to qualify yourself for that leadership role.

1. Which contexts to take into account?

“We don’t get a chance to do that many things, and everyone should be really excellent.” — Steve Jobs

Career fulfilment implies that you strive for excellence and to be all you can be. When you accept that excellence is context specific, the first key is to get the big picture. Which contexts do you want to be part of?

In the first place, the cultural context of the company needs to be taken into account. It is important to find out which company culture was created in the past, which culture is wished for in the future and how this transition can be achieved by introducing you.

Of course, you need to consider the company’s physical context too. How healthy is the company from an economic point of view (financial viability, market alignment, etc.)? Which actions need to be taken to (help) keep the company liveable or to revive it if necessary.

The inner context refers to the team’s (or company’s) state of mind. Do you know what lives there? Which emotions are shown, positive and negative? To what extend is this acknowledged? Which state of mind needs to be created to guarantee long-term success?

The relational context looks at what the relationship between the company and its stakeholders has led (employees, clients, suppliers, shareholders, etc.). Which role does the company want to play in the lives of others? Is this in line with your personal values?

career_management_big_pictureThe situational context looks at the actual situation of the company as well as the requirements in the short term. Which situation should the company evolve to? Is this transition supported? Which talent needs to be attracted or developed to evolve?

2. What value does the role need to add?

An important element in management is that what is delegated is executed as well or even better as when it was not delegated. That is the first concern of management. The second concern is that the time freed up is used to add value.

“If everybody is thinking alike, then somebody isn't thinking.”
— George S. Patton Jr.

If you look at leading as described in one of my other blog posts, “Six Levels of Leadership”, you can distinguish three elements: manage, support and develop the underlying level, take the lead in management of one’s own level and align with the higher level (if present).

Therefore, it is vital that you determine what value a role will require you to contribute. This is the second key. You can only emerge as an inspiring leader when you transcend your team, without the distance becoming too big that people will no longer understand you.

career_management_create_valueBeware not to aspire to a role beyond your current level of competence. The Peter Principle is in this respect a well-known phenomenon. You will not be able to consciously add value to a higher level when you do not yet have the required leadership awareness.

3. Qualify yourself for the leadership role.

The essence of choosing your next role depends on matching the required level of leadership (third key). Only then can your knowledge, experience and personality be fully appreciated. Below, you will read some typical role requirements. It’s up to you to determine the role in which you should be leading.

“It is not enough that we do our best, sometimes we must do what is required.”
— Winston S. Churchill

If the role requires you to offer solutions for individual problems, to respond to individual requests while following procedures and managing the transition from request to output, the role needs a solution leader who will seek to satisfy stakeholders (clients, employees, etc.).

If the role requires you to optimize the diverse processes through integration, to create a systematic approach striving towards a proprietary company approach and ensuring the highest chance of success, the role calls for a best practice leader to seek efficiency.

If the role requires you to develop a new market and/or product strategy in line with constantly changing contexts or by differentiating within these contexts, the role will demand a strategic development leader who will anticipate change and innovate.

If the role requires you to step away from the company’s physical activity and to reshape the organization’s identity in order to develop a reputation in existing and new contexts, the role asks for a transformational leader to create a new business model.


Ten years ago, an article appeared in University of Auckland Business Review, called “Are you big enough for your job? Is your job big enough for you?” upon which this post is an elaboration. It outlines why and how we benefit from working at the right level and in the right-sized job.

To help you realize this throughout your professional career, partner with your executive search consultant. Align with him or her to help you take the right contexts into account, to discuss the value your next role should add and to help you qualify for the next step. Co-create your career success.

career_management_legacyI hope this article provides some food-for-thought to consider the fundamental career questions of choosing the right contexts, understanding the required value creation and acknowledging the value you bring to the scene, so that you (and the people you lead) can achieve fulfilment.

"If your actions create a legacy that inspires others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, then, you are an excellent leader." — Dolly Parton

Whether you are an executive search consultant yourself, a hiring manager or a manager in career transition, I’m looking forward to reading about your experiences.


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