No matter how good you get, you can always get better.
Numerous authors, academics, and executives have offered a plethora of executive competencies regarding “what it takes” to be successful. Our intent in introducing the concept of career agility is not to add to the list. Rather, our aim is to help you understand that what ultimately matters is not what you have, but how you use it. Merely possessing one or more of the most coveted competencies is meaningless without the ability to develop and then deploy those skills strategically. Just as effective business strategy involves leveraging a company's sustainable and unique competitive advantage, so too does effective career strategy. It is also true that there simply is no single “it” regarding any key competency that might unlock the door to career success. We suggest that what ultimately determines success in your career game is your ability to leverage your competencies in a manner that exploits career opportunities. Another way to think about this is to remember what Stephen Elop shared in our conversation—that disruptive opportunities are the ones that have the most potential to accelerate a career. In our view, career agility is the key to staying aboard when forces are acting to disrupt your career. As the chapter-opening quote from Tiger Woods indicates, we hold that career agility means finding ways to continually get better, no matter how good you are. Woods is an example of an athlete who, many have observed, is tireless in his efforts to understand how to continually build and then leverage his competitive advantages. In the business world, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer is one of many who have highlighted the critical need for leaders to be able to develop ways to adapt to new situations.1Wall Street Journal reporter Carol Hymowitz has written about the importance, with each promotion, of managers learning how to act their new parts because successfully doing so is a demonstration of agility.2