What does it really mean to be a new generation empowered conscious thought leader?
I want to draw attention to some of the language we use today – because it’s in this that we can understand massive social & business change:
Nowadays everyone is a leader is some way…
For some the navigation of the wrong career path has led to confusion, and dissatisfaction, the impact of the pandemic makes us also sit back and think is this even possible for me.
The Traditional Career Ladder
I can think not so long ago climbing this corporate career ladder without a thought to the other options. Only when mentoring did it become clear to me the other routes were there all along we just don’t have our eyes wide open.
You may be the unseen hard-working, high achiever, a smart problem solver of everyone else’s stuff. While juggling home & work.. it can get too much.
Edging deeper into a specialist field of interest, pigeon-holed I used to say I was. I can think of data analysts and data scientist who have done just this.
While others leapfrog you and get promoted you perhaps honed to a level of specialism – sometimes wondering if they had made a mistake – but mostly because of the ‘Old thinking’ around what makes a truly recognised leader.
A Harvard review talks about the damaging impact a ‘delusional view of our careers’ does for professional progress and personal satisfaction.
A belief now backed by research which I fully concur. but that I would add – this viewpoint also means we don’t get the best of you. The empowered you in your career in full FLOW contributing to a future world. In truth, we need everyone fully present, connected and growing in what they do best!
Especially now as the world tries to recover from the impact of COVID 19.
The view of the traditional linear career ladder as the single career path is damaging our chances of success and finding happiness in our careers.
It narrows the focus, affects our self-worth ( I’m not a manager, I’m a number…)… and limits your options.
But it’s easy to see why we still view this as the main prolific sign of professional and life success.
Challenging the Single Track View of Your Career Progression
In our personal lives (when we had one) you heard phrases like, they had a good job, that’s short for a senior title, a big house, fancy car, watch and extravagant hobbies. And that’s no disrespect if you want these things. If this gives your life meaning and value, or you want to provide these for your family, or the title means you get the respect and significance and impact you want, then you know this is the goal for you. I want to suggest that there are other ways too, to have this level of satisfaction.
We perceive that a good job can only be a senior leader. The very phrase suggests anything else is not ‘good’. When the majority of the workforce in a medium business of around 150 employees, not many hold the top 10 positions at the company, or indeed of a large business with over 250 employees the top 20 seats. The opportunities for all just aren’t in the numbers.
And I recently heard a great quote ‘the world needs doers’ – the people that won’t sit back until someone else sorts it out but will take action.
The world needs doers
The truth is the world needs all we have to offer, the contributions at technical, people, managerial, strategic – all levels.
And I guarantee you may not think it but you have a basic human need to constantly be growing. To feel that you in some form of your life are making progress.
That’s why when you give up on a career ladder and don’t do anything else, sit back passively, you feel plateaued, unfulfilled.
Now the flattening IT teams in fact many organisational structures – means a greater choice for you.
The revolution spurred by many tech giants, new startups and Silicone valley in the last 20 years shows us the new generation of empowered thought leader sits in many seats across the organisations.
Harvard Research into Careers
As the Harvard research suggests ith a broad more flexible lifestyle choice say. 50% of people surveyed don’t see a future in employment but in fact self-employed. to be their own boss’ ‘CEO’ of their carer journey and passion projects. You only have to look at how many cultivate a personal brand of contributing to their specialist field.
The empowered leader as a CEO of their career has a greater influence on their field, the choice of work they do, perhaps multiple clients at a time. Which is an unsurprising culture shift when survey statistics say 86% of us are disconnected from the work we do. How else can you increase impact, do work your exclusively passionate about and hone a skill set that becomes your ‘why’, your life’s work? Increase your contribution.
Whilst ‘going freelance’ might not be on your career plan, it’s worth noting what this can teach us about how we should be uniquely approaching our life’s work.
You see as a high performer and achiever you seek to find a connection to know the contribution impact and recognition of your work.
We’re more self-aware of what makes us happy, and strategies that challenge our personal values in a traditional employee role well, we need the authority in our domain to do things the way we know are best. Kind of like the ‘pay the experts to do their job’.
As a high performing passionate IT professional like me the details matter because this is where the product/project either fails to deliver or benefits beyond the initial business case can be realised.
The Skills Needed For a Modern World
The way at school we’re taught a predefined path to a given outcome, to win, pass and strive for the grades.
What happens when you did the science project and decided to deviate?
My son is a prolific creator of anything other than the instructions said to build….
we might not follow the rules, he risks failure but aren’t these the skills we need for people to find new ways…
We’re taught winning is good, follow the rules, follow the path set out before you, practise your skills work hard.
In work you do this for your first job you will get so far and you probably felt like this was going well. the training etc…
Then something changed – or if we take the last 20 years as an example and you work in tech – think early internet, pre amazon.
Particularly now the world is changing…
We’ve gone form schools and business with management saying…
Do as you’re told, don’t ask questions, follow the instructions, don’t answer back, get on with everyone and do everything you’re asked and you’ll get on. You may have been one of these who promoted, or maybe you saw people leapfrog you for being this way
In the New World
In the new world, we have companies needing to adapt, the pace of change in IT so fast, not to mention the pandemic and revolution right now. I don’t just need a smart professional who can do as they’re asked – I need a creative, advancing, thought leader, who knows and grows with the sector, who advises and leads, who is innovative while being mindful of the impact on my customers and business and systems & data… and everything.. Who can influence stakeholders and shareholders, board members to make the best decisions for this company – this technology. Everyone is a leader, step up…
It’s overwhelming. And a skillset we weren’t prepared for. From one change to the next you’re not sure what you should be focusing on or delivering.
Follow the 3 dimensions of success, you’re missing the direction clarity, the support & probably even a growth mindset to do all this…
All the while afraid of those mistakes that trial and error will cause – people who make mistakes don’t get a good job or better still they can get fired!!
And this culture needs to change too and I’m pleased to say new leadership styles are recognising this.
The world is changing and our perspectives need to change also. This responsibility lies with each of us, our schools, and the way we feel about our own growth.
And of course IT teams have been getting flatter for years. Management has been a risky level to belong to, with each new restructure cost-cutting or more agile way of working, structures are broken down.
Yet there are still internal leadership programs, with little to support or visibility to other routes. Meaning this responsibility lies with you to take control to make it happen & even recognise your own personal growth.
Graded Roles for Technical / Expert Skills
Many corporates operate employee grading based on managerial levels. From a grade 1 employee to a grade 5 director – the very number gives you insignificance right.
Yet there are plenty of grade 1 professionals that work hard, hone skills and add value, but don’t progress on a traditional management ladder.
In fact, in more modern tech companies like Google they recognise the shift and balance.
One of my most talented data engineers doesn’t want to work in management nor should they. they are passionate they see they are contributing and when they recommend solutions they are best for the job, not the manager – so why should their grade be lower.
That’s why modern organisations like these have a specialist grading for software engineers ranging from 1-10 for executive-level engineers/fellows.
And a separate management ladder for those with people leaderships roles.
Sometimes all this can be hard to figure out in your head, alone and it’s overwhelming what is expected of you just to stay ahead.
If you’re starting to feel misdirected, questioning your career decisions, feeling plateaued, worn out, overwhelmed and not sure what you should be focussing your efforts, get a coach. It can often make a huge difference to achieving and understanding your goals.
If I want to leave you with anything it’s to rethinkk your definition of a leader…
I suggest to you that the new generation of empowered conscious thought leaders are strong high impact contributors, as a high performing influencer, you show up in full flow almost every day. Passionate and connected to your work and personal growth as your life’s work.
You are a CEO, a CEO of your own professional journey and destiny – the power to choose to challenge what’s expected of you… to instead do what you want…
Whether you choose to be employed, to rise a leadership ladder, to become a technical specialist, a creative, a product manager, a consultant in your field or develop a new product or service for your own business.
The world has and is still changing, the life you want to build from this, the new definitions for our children of what it means to be successful to have an impact and do something positive and fulfilling. To empower everyone to be the best of themselves, one of the key pillars in the 3D success framework is helping you to define this for you. So that you can be an empowered leader of the future in your full flow.
I want to know what breakthrough did you have as part of this connect & message me on Linked in or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Tell me your views & experiences,