L. Liang: What three skills/abilities do you feel are most important for career advancement in today’s rapidly-changing global environment?
K. Elliot: Presence and impact, critical thinking, and the ability to build a network of advocates, both internal and external, to your current organization.
L. Liang: What advice would you give to an individual interested in advancing his/her career to help determine if he/she has a future in his/her present company, or if he/she should change companies?
K. Elliot: Continuously assess the level of your role within the current organization, ensuring optimal performance. If opportunities are provided to increase your knowledge, expertise, and ability to grow as a leader, there is a definite future within the present company. If there’s a time when that dynamic changes, it may be time for a transition.
L. Liang: Do you or did you have a mentor? If so, how did you obtain him/her? What was the most important benefit you gained from your mentor?
K. Elliot: I have had several mentors. They were identified both from a formal mentoring program at Vanguard and informally. I believe it is important to have more than one mentor and pull from the strongest competencies of each. An important benefit is the ability to have a “safe zone.” A mentor allows me to strategize difficult work situations and have career-development discussions without the concern that any challenges I face will adversely affect my perception with my direct management team. A mentor allows you to have additional perspective and possibly a historical point of view from an experienced leader, allowing you to come to the right conclusion more efficiently.
L. Liang: What is the single most important piece of advice you would give to emerging leaders to assist them in advancing their careers?
K. Elliot: Network early in your career. I won’t overuse the cliché “It’s not what you know but who you know,” but having organizational agility and the ability to get things done is a key driver in advancing your career.
Linda A. Liang PhD, is president of Organizational Resources, LLC. She’s an executive coach and leadership development consultant and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org