Overcoming Career Barriers
This chapter is about how and what leaders learn from career barriers. A major, unexpected career upset is a frame-breaking experience that causes the leader to reflect on what went wrong. It places the leader in a new situation filled with uncertainty but ripe for experimentation and risk taking. This chapter discusses types of career barriers, how they arise, and what and how a leader learns from these experiences. Leaders can make the most of these barriers by adopting coping strategies that will bring new opportunities and help them manage other barriers that may arise in the future.
Most people think of a career barrier as a job loss. However, there are other types. Table 10.1 lists other career barriers. These barriers may occur together, making them more complex and troublesome. For instance, a change in job assignment may involve relocation abroad and considerable job stress. This may come late in life, and could result in unfavorable performance feedback from an unsympathetic boss. Also, nonwork losses can become career barriers, as when a divorce affects the leader's ability to focus on work.
How the career barrier arises and other characteristics of the barrier will affect its impact on the leader's emotions, thoughts, and actions. Career barriers can vary on the following characteristics, each of which can exacerbate the strength of the barrier. Barriers may be sudden, involuntary, visible to others, and traumatic in terms of emotion, disruption, and alternation of one's career and life. They vary in the degree of clarity and certainty, and the number and roles of other people affected (one's spouse, other family members, colleagues, customers, and friends). Also, they vary in their effects on other aspects of life, such as one's health and leisure. In addition, they differ in the degree of control a person has to alter or escape from the situation.