When I speak to various professionals and executive leaders, a key theme that comes up repeatedly is advice on key career management tips. Having just thought about it deeply during a long flight, a distillation of my career-long learning is as follows:

1. Back yourself.

Self-confidence cannot be outsourced! When you encounter tough people or new situations, the only person who has full knowledge of your past success is you. Get inspired by Edmund Hillary's words to Mount Everest: “I'll come back to you. You cannot grow taller but I can.”

Career Management for Leaders2. You cannot do it alone.

While a truism, it is incredible how so many people's careers get derailed on account of this factor alone - be it not managing their teams well or not displaying teamwork with peers/stakeholders. Even a task as virtual as email, stripped of all person to person interaction is ultimately delivered to a human being!

3. When you lose, don't lose the lesson.

Dark days are inevitable in some industries, such as the financial services industry, whose primary premise, i.e., lending is built on the promise of hope and better days to come. The litmus test of success here is the ability to pick up learning and march onward as opposed to being bogged down! As the Dalai Lama says, when you lose, don't lose the lesson.

4. Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans.

Even with the best of plans, reality has its surprises in store for you! The sheer number of people who either give up their dreams on the one hand or lead a life wherein they refuse to acknowledge reality on the other hand is astounding. The key is to enjoy what life has to offer while continuing to pursue one's dreams.

5. Are you driving your work or is your work driving you?

This is one of the first lessons I learned in the corporate world, the objective here is to ask yourself this question every day to figure out if you are reinforcing incumbency or driving innovation.

6. Only things which get scheduled get done.

It is incredible how we all have great intentions and huge to-do lists but we fail to take it from 99% execution to 100% execution by leaving out that one critical element – scheduling tasks into our calendar so that we are forced to prioritize. One of my mentors once remarked that it is a sheer wonder that while everything (stature, pay, perquisites) changes as you move up the ladder, the one constant is 24 hours a day.

7. Adapt quickly.

Two of the key trends of our times are the amoebic propensity with which corporations reshape themselves and increasingly kaleidoscopic nature of the socio-cultural context in which we operate. The most successful people I know have an incredible ability to ride the wave by latching to the bandwagon at just the right time.

In industries beset by crises from time to time, as seen in the 2007-2009 financial crises, the need for a reset cannot be emphasized enough. Keep learning!


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