This week I must have received about 10 emails proclaiming what I need to climb the corporate ladder. Just nuts! Guess what? Here’s the secret … there isn’t a ladder. If you talk to most people who are successful in the corporate world and ask them "what was their path to get here". Most will say the 1st off it was more like a journey than a path. 2nd their ascent to the top was more like a zig-zag trail than a ladder.
Like a mountain with walking trails carved into the sides, from a distance it all looks to go around in a uniform fashion in rows. A closer look, no actually start up the mountain and you quickly learn its anything but uniform.
I tell you this so you won’t be or get discouraged. What you map out on paper as to how you will reach your career goal will change, go sideways and sometimes turn around. Its OK the strategic mind knows it’s all part of the end journey. Be flexible, be prepared and stay alert…. You’ll climb to your goal one step at a time but not by rungs on a ladder.
“6 steps to climb the corporate ladder” “ 10 ways to move up the corporate ladder” “reasons why you aren’t going up the ladder” “secrets to climbing the ladder to success” .. STOP already! There is no ladder! The way to reach the corner office is not a straight line. There is no clear path/plan for getting where you want to go. The corporate world /game has changed and with that change so has the way to “the top”.
The corporate ladder has been replaced by a maze, a matrix, a jigsaw puzzle type structure where there are a number of ways to reach the end. So now what? As you begin to plot out your career strategy, these are the dynamics – not rungs on a ladder – to consider:
Be open – opportunities are not going to always come in a neat package. If you are an Accountant the opportunity may come in the form of marketing at a donuts shop. Marriott started out owning a soda shop.
Apply your skills not your degree – I have a degree in Information Systems Management; so is that all I am, a pot of computer knowledge? No. My skills are: time management, delegation of resources, working within budget, working in teams, research development and testing, customer service, client management and the list goes on and on; as does my experience.
Every relationship matters – People matter they are the key to all success. I say it’s relationships at all levels. In the Avon story, it was the relationship formed with the secretary in the office that formed Avon into the direct selling powerhouse it has become. The counter person at the cleaners should have the same level of attention when they say “good morning” to you as the senior partner at XYZ company when they say “good morning”.
Know more than what you do – I used to think I was a well of haphazard information. Now, I view myself as an appendix filled with “guess what else” information. Knowing something about a lot gives you a better understanding of the whole company; what it all means and what you can contribute. I read somewhere that Andrew Carnegie didn’t know a lot about making steel. However, he knew enough to know who to hire to be the best.
So when you review where you are in your career stop trying to plug into a ladder or measure against the path someone else took. I promise if you search and search you will never find 2 people who reached the top the exact same way. So, I direct you to navigate your course – maybe a move to a position at the same pay level or a lower career level will put you right where you need to be to move into the space you have as your goal. Your Plan will take you exactly where you want to go.