Are you truly building your full potential? The choices you make now, will impact what jobs are available down the road. Moving up too quickly in one functional area may limit the diversity of skills you learn, and turn you into a specialist with limited future potential.
As Joanne Cleaver, says “over is the new up.”
When a strong, smart employee comes to me looking for help being promoted, I almost always encourage them to also consider “jumping out of an airplane” and trying a lateral job they appear to know nothing about. I ask them to think more broadly about their full potential.
I ask these sorts of questions:
- Are you building yourself into a specialist, or building a reputation as a leader with broader capacity?
- Have you tried moving into a new discipline
- What are your unrealized gifts?
- Which of your skills are the most transferable?
- Should you consider moving sideways to expand your perspective and skills?
And, I am truly grateful for the times in my career bosses and mentors challenged me in that same way and inspired me to work toward my full potential.
I’ve told my story of moves across HR, customer service, marketing, sales.. more than a few times. The truth is, I was able to take leaps across functions because other leaders have taken risks on me. My favorite line from a Sales Senior Vice President years ago, “Karin, don’t tell me you don’t know sales… you’ve convinced us all to buy-in to these HR and leadership programs… trust me, you can sell.”
So, I tell, my story, and people listen…and then the natural question… but, “how do I convince someone I am qualified?”
The truth is, I can’t break that down… I don’t exactly remember that part… and I don’t have a great answer to this question… and time and time again… I get stuck.
Time to Ask a Full Potential Expert
So, suppose you believe it’s important, and are prepared to take a risky move.
How do you convince someone to take a risk on you?
So I reached out to Joanne Cleaver, the author of The Career Lattice: how Lateral Move Strategies Can Grow Careers and Companies asked for some help.
They want to “lattice up”, but no one will give them a chance? What should they do?
Here’s her response:
The best way to make your case to a potential new boss is to show how you have already achieved results with a skill or responsibility analogous to the new challenge. For example, if you are trying to switch from a technology role in which you often interacted with marketing, to a marketing role that is a liaison to technology, show how you have managed a project from the point of view of marketing.
Build a concise case study that shows what you can do. (Simply saying, ‘I can do that!” isn’t enough.” )
Here’s how to build a case study:
• One sentence each
Voila! You have shown yourself in action.
Use this case study formula to document your accomplishments as you go. You can use case studies in cover letters and interviews as you get to know potential new bosses.
Career lattices the emerging model for career paths because they are both flexible and sustainable. The skill of managing your career laterally is essential for working Americans of all ages and at all career stages, as I illustrate in The Career Lattice. By continually evolving your skills, abilities and peer network, you’ll qualify for tomorrow’s jobs today.
Have you convinced someone to take a risk on you?
Have you bet on someone who did not have the obvious background… and given them the chance?