Coaching Insight: Highly experienced, busy executives can often get swept along the activity path, with unintended risks and consequences, including these six personal pitfalls. What do you need to change for the coming year to be more successful than the last?

A common pattern among highly experienced, busy executives is that it is often the activities that cross their path, rather than being intentional, that sweep them along. As the Red Queen explains to Alice in Lewis Carroll’s Through The Looking-Glass, “it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place.”

Working ‘in’ a career and not ‘on’ a career can have unintended limitations. It may mean a series of roles that essentially repeat the same experiences.  Further, not planning – or running the risk of a critical event taking you by surprise – can result in these six direct or covert scenarios.

  1. Missed promotion, lost opportunities or redundancy
  2. Disputed achievements and contributions
  3. Narrow connections and networks
  4. Underdeveloped skills for a future role
  5. Stress or lack of time to focus on what matters most
  6. Diminished value, power and influence.

How often do you really pause, take time and consider the best way to progress, change, adapt or achieve your aims? Remember, before you can change direction, you actually need to stop.

When considering new pathways, it helps to look:

  • Within: intrapersonal learning and development
  • Between: interpersonal relations that operate between people
  • Across: issues among systems, organisation, groups and individuals
  • Outside: external environment and contextual factors.

Then answer …

  • What needs to change for the coming year to be better than the last?
  • Why are my goals, boundaries and priorities important?
  • How will I nurture my team, my network and myself?
  • What new competencies do I need to remain relevant?
  • Will reframing give a third option?
  • Do I have the resilience to weather the storms or tensions?
  • How will I message my capabilities, strengths and aspirations?
  • Which measures track success and contentment?
  • How will I own my time, rather than being hijacked?

Executives must be adaptive – working the unwritten rules; having a career strategy; sharing knowledge, connecting and collaborating with diverse networks, sponsors, mentors and stakeholders; knowing what truly matters; making choices for balance, energy and renewal.

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About the author: Dianne Jacobs


Dianne Jacobs of The Talent Advisors, Melbourne, guides and informs businesses, executives, partners and aspiring directors aiming for the next level.