This article applies mostly to those of you who like me, have invested a lot of time in your career. I’ve always found some comfort in being an employee, no matter my rank or pay grade, and I’ve always loved big companies. After almost two decades of working for these giants I can tell you a lot of stories but I will leave that for my next series. Stay tuned if you’re interested into Corporate life.
There are many ways to deal with your career within a company. Not long ago, a rep working for another manager asked me how did I myself become a manager in the first place. I get that question every now and then and for some it humbles me, it reminds me of what I’ve done for good or bad and it brings those memories to the present.
It is a wonderful thing because it takes me back to those moments that took me through this path my career is. I start remembering the choices, the decisions I had to take and of course I remember the bad ones first and then the good ones. I usually think that the bad ones allowed me to grow and showed me what the good ones might look like.
There is no perfect recipe, no “one fits all” kind of thing and that is basically because there are not two people who are exactly the same in the whole world so situations vary. We could run an algorithm to calculate the odds for you being in the exact same situations I were and you would not end up with the same results.
Having said that, I do have my own formula. It worked for me but I only came to realization about it a few years ago.
The Results (R) * The Right Sponsorship (RS) * The Proper Visibility (PV) = The Golden Path (GP), or to sum it up:
Let us break it down. Hopefully you might find something useful in it and make one of your own. In case you’re wondering, the * means multiply and the simple reason for that is that if one of those values is 0, then the result is 0 hence you need to have all values different than 0 before you actually get the result. Isn’t that simple?
Seems obvious enough but I found that sometimes clarification is thought of as a given and thus forgotten.
Results mean one thing alone: get the job done, and then some more.
You were hired for a specific reason. You were given a task or responsibility. Regardless of the tools or resources you were presented with, a mission was delivered to you.
Get the job done does not mean hitting your numbers: it means overachieving. It means showing value. It means going far and beyond and always look for excellence, running not an extra mail but an actual 5 or 10 more.
This is critical and quite simple: there is a reason for Results to be the first variable in the formula. Without them, there is no Golden Path, you won’t achieve much. You can have good results, standard results or awesome results. The only result not accepted is “no results at all”.
That is also why you need a Sponsor.
Right Sponsorship (RS)
There is no denying that having someone saying good things about you can help your career as there is no way to deny that someone speaking ill about you can push you back.
There is also a moral fallacy around this point: “why should I need a sponsor if I work hard enough?”. It’s open to debate of course but if your mind is set there trust me, you won’t advance in your career any time soon. Hard working is expected of you. That’s what they are paying you for. Now, if you want to move on and grow…you need a sponsor. Why?
Because a Sponsor can do for you something you can not: it can translate your results into potential or easily said: put you in the picture. This person can speak to others about you in a way you couldn’t possibly speak for yourself: he or she can talk to upper management and make them look your way. They have access to those people and to the situations when they speak about “the future”.
You won’t get into that picture without a Sponsor vouching for you. This is a person who not only look at your results but sees beyond. It is a person who is willing to fight for you even if he or she is not your manager: they are believers, the first “followers” you should have and the ones that, if you deliver, will open up the doors to success.
They will also tell you when you’re not doing it right, mostly because they invest on you as much as you invest on them: they can’t go around speaking wonders about you if you’re not doing it right. Trust your sponsor and ask that person for feedback, and do it regularly.
Oh, and you can have more than 1 of course. The more the merrier, right? Sponsors do come with “warning” tags though. Before you consider having more than one, make certain you got the right one first, and then another one that’s right. Don’t make them fight for you just yet.
But Sponsors can only take you that far.
Proper Visibility (PV)
A common mistake I’ve seen is to believe that results + having a sponsor work like a charm. I’m saying it’s a common mistake because I committed it a few times myself and read about it in many books.
A Sponsor will as said, showcase your potential based on your results but they already have visibility while you might not. Even if they do put you on the spot in a good way, you need to work around that as much as you can and cater to others as well.
The reason is simple: even in this Digital Era of us, mouth-to-mouth is still the best way to go. You need to be seen, spoken about, referred to. You have an internal audience that will turn their heads your way if you do it right. You must become one of a kind, or one of the best and the right way to go is to cater to as many.
You want that, you need that. The shortest explanation of this is: how do you get a sponsor if all you’ve got are results? The first thing your potential sponsor will do is try to find out more about you and if you’re not visible enough you not might be “desirable” enough to be considered by a Sponsor.
After all, they will sponsor you for own reason. Having visibility over who you are and what you will make you less dependent on their agendas, and it helps them as well: it will provide them with a guideline on what they can showcase and who they can showcase to.
The Golden Path (GP)
I called it this way just to bring your attention to this point and because let’s face it, it’s a cool name. Who didn’t love The Wizard of Oz after all?
This is the best metaphor of your career path. This is also the reason why you read this article in the first place: you want more, you want to advance, you want to grow. That’s what the Golden Path represents and every action you take constitutes one of the bricks that make that path.
Think of your career as just that: a path you take on every day of your life from 8 to 5 or so: everything you do sets one of those bricks in, tightens it or loosens it a bit. Everything you work for is setting that path right so you can walk it and get to your Mecca, your Emerald city, the pinnacle of your career.
Consider what you’ve just read and look around. To you have the right results (as in off the charts)? Do you have a sponsor? Is your work visible enough?
The Golden Path is not a given. It is something you have to work for every single day. Think of the building materials this example offered you: bricks (your actions), something to hold them together (your visibility) and someone to point your way and show it as the right way to go (your sponsor).
Now think of the formula again:
And because you’ve taken the time to read the whole thing, here is a final translation of it for you:
If you have the right results and you have the right sponsor translating those into potential, based on the proper visibility of who you are at your workplace, you will be securing your golden path.
A quick final tip for you, just because you read all through this part: as long as all the values in the formula don’t equal 0, you will keep on adding bricks to your golden path…which means that values might differ from anything above 0 to infinite. If results are good but not great, focus on visibility. If your visibility is great and results are good but you don’t have a sponsor, go get a coffee with someone who you may want to have as a sponsor.
I hope you enjoyed this read but more than that, I hope you take the time to evaluate the formula, break it down even more and see what works for you. An if you do, it would be G-R-E-A-T if you would comment on this post.