Career strategies are thought-through approaches to personal career advancement that help you meet your career goals.
Good career strategies take into account your strengths and personal dispositions, as well as the realities of the workplace, including the human side, and the politics.
Dispelling The Lies That Keep You Stuck
Let’s start by dispelling a myth: emotional intelligence, especially in the sense of “caring” and “empathy” does not help you to the top.
Here is the result of a survey from a company that actually sells emotional intelligence training.
Here is how you could describe those results:
Nice guys might not finish last, but they surely get stuck in the middle.
The “emotional intelligence myth” is a nice story to keep the nice guys and girls spinning their wheels in the mid-level positions.
So, what gets you promoted?
The Truth of Who Gets Promoted
Competence and results are crucial, of course.
But they’re just the entry-level requirements.
After that, it’s professionally polished alpha males and alpha females who exude confidence, authority, and power who get promoted to the top.
And it’s Machiavellians who know to schmooze and strategize.
It doesn’t matter how much your team loves you, or how good your results are.
If you don’t look like you belong to the executive club, you will hardly make it into the boardroom.
Luckily, you can learn that.
Start with some theory first, it will help you accept this less than ideal reality:
- Machiavellism to The Top (more theory, but it’s important)
So, how do you start executing and communicating more of that confidence that will help you get to the top?
Here is how:
- The executive skills you need to master: this helps you understand what are the basic skills and competencies to look and act the part (and, eventually, become an executive material)
Now, let’s take a closer look at the realities of the workplace:
- Conflicts of interest: this forms the basis of understanding politics
And this is how to learn to play the game:
- Office Politics 101: this is a 7-step formula to learning and getting good at office politics. It’s a heavily linked, bookmark-worthy resource that will take you from 1 to 10.
- Career strategies 101: the fundamental and proven strategies for effective career advancement
And to end, some more real-life theory:
- Power in the workplace: an overview of what affords power at work
Business culture is still mostly a male-culture, and especially so at the higher organizational levels. The male style of business accentuates some important gender differences. Women will be well-served if they familiarize themselves with those differences (but I also recommend men to understand the gender impact)
Albeit in some cases it’s possible to leapfrog your boss, most of the time your boss has an outsized influence on your career.
And the relationship with your boss is often the single most important relationship you have on the workplace
If you can make friends with people, chances are you can make friends with your boss. But there are a few peculiarities you should be aware of:
Self-Promotion at Work
- Strategic self-promotion: an overview on how and when to promote, including foundational skills of effective communication
- The realpolitik guide to being a good manager: how to foster team collaboration while being both liked and respected
- The manager’s guide to toxic employees: how to recognize and deal with the bad apples
- The archetypes of political players: psychological and behavioral analysis of the people you are going to meet in your career
Best Career Resources
As you might imagine, office politics and career strategies are not a field where research is either abundant or crystal clear.
How would you measure political effectiveness or Machiavellian strategies? And who is going to come out and be frank about what they’re truly doing?
Those at the top are not too keen to share how they got there outside of work and personal merits.
However, some quantitative research here and some qualitative books there, some good picture of what’s effective and what isn’t started emerging.
The result of that research has been a large update to the workplace section of Power University.
And here are my favorite books that I have read on the topic: