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Leadership Today - Practical Tips For Leaders

Dec 8, 2023


With so much uncertainty and change it can be difficult to map out your career. However there are still steps we can take to build a great career.



Hello and welcome to episode 213 of the Leadership Today podcast where each week we share practical tips to improve your leadership. This week we explore how to build a great career.

In just a few generations the number of jobs someone is likely to have in their lifetime has increased markedly. Estimates vary, but it’s likely a young person commencing their working life today will have around 15 jobs and 3 separate careers. Even across 50 years of working, that’s changing jobs about every 3 years. Career planning is becoming more challenging and complex.

When it comes to building a great career, you will find many people propose finding work with a combination of:

  • Skills - what you’re good at
  • Interests - what you enjoy
  • Opportunities - what the world needs and is willing to pay for

The missing factor in this equation is growth - what you can develop. A job without growth opportunities will ultimately cause your career to stall. Life expectancy continues to increase so we will be working longer, which has implications for our training and development. The old model of completing training, then working in a career until your skills are bordering on redundant will no longer work. We have to continue learning, growing and adapting right across our career.

But how can you plan for a career when the job you might have in 10 years may not even exist now? Here’s how. A great career comes down to your mindset and actions. Despite rapid change and uncertainty, we can adopt a mindset that welcomes change, where we are willing to take calculated risks and learn from mistakes. We can invest in knowing ourselves and regularly improving our capabilities. And we can also build connections with others.

So in order to build a great career, I suggest you:

  1. Ask “What is a great career… for me?” Your career is a personal expression of who you are and your broader purpose in life. Don’t fall into the trap of blindly following others’ careers or what your organisation is laying out for you as the accepted pathway. It’s very easy to drift without having a clear idea of what a great career means to you. Factor in opportunities to develop, breaks from work for holidays, or whatever else matters to you.
  2. Set goals that matter. Approach life in a goal-oriented way. Keep stretching yourself forward towards clear goals.
  3. Apply pathways thinking. When the initial path to a goal is blocked, find a different way to achieve that goal. When you hit an obstacle, ask yourself how else you can get to your goal.
  4. Celebrate progress. Stop occasionally and reflect on what you can do now that you couldn’t do 12 months ago.
  5. Don’t worry so much about making a career mistake. Even the seemingly poor career decisions we make are opportunities to learn and grow. The biggest mistake I made in my career turned out to also be one of my biggest development opportunities, and a stark reminder of the kind of career I really wanted. Even though it seemed like a career mistake, it actually helped me in my career.

Building a great career takes some effort. While we can’t necessarily plan every step, there are actions we can take to help build a great career.


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