It isn’t rare for me to hear from individuals in organizations that they want more career development. As a matter of fact, as a leadership coach, this is what most people are looking for when they hire me as a coach. They want more development and more learning for themselves and for the teams that they lead.
Still, there is a common misunderstanding about career development: that it is up to your employer to do it for you.
Often times, a new employee begins a job with the greatest of hopes. They have done a couple of interviews and met with their new boss and the team they are going to work with, and it all seems to be a great fit. There is a handout in the midst of all the paperwork that mentions a mentoring program and includes an image of the developmental pathway. And right here is where the misunderstanding occurs.
There seems to be some confusion around what it actually takes to get the next promotion or to be the person you see at the top of the chain. Just because it is printed on a piece of paper doesn’t mean that it doesn’t still take time, energy, possibly money, and a deep commitment to your own growth.
We see people who are successful and we forget that it didn’t happen overnight. What we miss is the fact that they have worked for many, many years (and probably many late nights) to get to where they are in their career.
Not to mention that “achieving” all of those benchmarks does not guarantee that you are a fully-grown person in leadership—that you have somehow arrived at a final destination.
Successful leaders (and individuals) know that they will never arrive. They understand from the beginning that if they are committed to thriving, they will always be learning and growing in some new way. They will continue to encounter unfamiliar territory and continue to experience the same lack of confidence that they felt in the early stages of their career.
Nevertheless, they keep developing themselves. They don’t concern themselves with checking off the boxes on that menu. They understand that growth never ends.