Strategies for Enhancing Your Executive, Personal, and Career Development

By Zajas, Jay | Business Perspectives, Summer 1993 | Go to article overview

Strategies for Enhancing Your Executive, Personal, and Career Development


Zajas, Jay, Business Perspectives


How successful am I in my career and personal life? In what ways is executive success viewed by colleagues, superiors, or others?

Such apparently simple questions have great importance in every manager's career. Designed to promote upward career mobility, a good career plan should encourage self-reflection on the key facets of executive and managerial success.

Author Peter Drucker recently contended that the most important challenge to business in the 1990s may well be the development of its managers. However, he asserts we are unprepared for such a challenge.

To prepare for the business world's challenges, every manager does well to formulate a career plan that clearly relates actual performance to his or her desired personal and career success. For the informed and well prepared executive, there are many strategies available to expand the frontiers of personal and career success. But before learning those strategies, become familiar with the myths of career development.

The 5 Myths of Career Development

What follows is a synopsis of the most common myths about career planning and development. The underlying philosophy or basis of each myth is discussed, and various strategies are presented to help prospective and current managers in furthering their personal and career success.

Myth 1--Persistence, Luck, and Hard Work Will Substitute for a Good Career Development Plan

Although these factors are essential, the fallacy of this myth is that persistence, luck, and hard work will take the place of good career planning. The reality is all these factors are necessary. Luck, or good fortune, is the external factor that is a result of one's environment. Persistence is a measure of one's willpower and tenacity; thus, it is an internal factor that is shaped by individual effort. Lastly, hard work is a misnomer for "working smart" by doing the right work in an efficient and economical manner. All three of these factors are important to a manager's personal and career success. Yet, none of them substitute for good career planning.

The Myth Resolved--Career planning sets the direction a manager wishes to pursue in his or her career. It is based on personal and organizational needs. Without a clear direction or map to follow in one's career, confusion or chaos can result. Managers do well to assess their needs, formulate relevant and measurable goals to meet these needs, make intelligent choices to expand their opportunities, while persevering to overcome any adversity that may arise.

Myth 2--Career Planning Flows from a Person's Goals, Interests, Values, and Attitudes

The inherent error of this common belief stems from the fallacy of the myth in absolute terms, rather than in relative terms. Frequently, career planning is done only in times of employment crisis, such as during layoffs, downsizing, terminations, and outplacement. In a preponderance of cases, career planning focuses on short-term goals and vocational interests without giving serious attention to conducting a thorough need or skill assessment of the individual.

Many career plans go to great lengths to address personal goals and interests. Some go beyond this to define and analyze a person's needs, values, attitudes, and employment skills. Rarely does a career plan cover all of these areas: interests, goals, values, attitudes, needs, and skills. The success of such best sellers as What Color Is Your Parachute?, by Richard N. Bolles, or Discover What You're Best At, by Barry and Linda Gale, is partly a result of the key emphasis given to the goal and comprehensive assessment of an individual's employment skills.

The Myth Refuted--Other than defining a person's goals, interests, values, and attitudes, career planning must assess key needs and employment skills. By requiring assessment of one's employment skills, such as business, clerical, logic, mechanical, numerical, and social skills, a realistic response can be given to the major career questions. …

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