Saturday, July 16, 2005

Where are you in your career?

Most careers have 4 phases:
  1. Apprentice
  2. Independent professional
  3. Middle manager
  4. Executive

When you're an apprentice, you're basically in LEARNING mode. You try to learn as much as possible from everything going on around you, and from people working around you. Usually, the best strategy is to pick a leader that you admire, and try to learn from him or ask him/her to mentor you.

After you master certain skills and work methods, you become an independent professional, and you have your own work cut out for you. Oftentimes, you work in a team setting, exchanging and collaborating with other professionals. This is where you begin to learn to play politics, and where you realize there are actually 3 kinds of meetings: the staff meeting, the get-something-done meeting and the combat meeting, where ultimately, someone will come out winning and someone else will come out "bleeding."

(more on these types of meetings in a later posting).

Eventually, you may graduate to become a middle manager. In this position, you should be able to coach other junior professionals and be able to act as a team leader. A middle manager is responsible for other people's team performance, so he/she must be very good with interpersonal skills, motivation, psychology, etc.

Ultimately, a few people, chosen from the middle manager group, become executives, who are responsible for ORGANIZATIONAL performance. Executives are often well connected to other players OUTSIDE their organizations (they usually have a lot of connections on LinkedIn). They are visionaries, fearless and strategic. They think long-term.

If you search for executive profiles on LinkedIn, you can learn a great deal about what it takes to become an executive.

For now, it seems enough to just understand these four different career phases, so that you can begin to strategize your approach with LinkedIn in order to maximize your career viability and opportunities.