Several of my coaching clients are emerging leaders who find themselves at a crossroads regarding their career development. Some of them feel stuck or unhappy in their current position and are unsure as to what their next professional move should be; others have decided to make a change and know what their next move should be or what their new role is, but are unsure about the steps to take to make such a change successful, and others know they are transitioning into a new/more senior role and feel insecure about their capacity to step in successfully into that role.
I have found through my coaching work with those clients that they all have one thing in common: they are most often looking at the trees rather than looking at the forest, or, as Erika Andersen, well known leadership expert would put it, they are not good at “pulling back the camera”. When you pull back the camera, when you stop looking only at one flower and rather start looking at the whole forest, you immediately get access to additional valuable information and new perspectives that you may not have considered. This undoubtedly helps you make better decisions and better guides your thinking through those moments of your career and life.
Pulling back the camera in those critical career questioning moments is therefore a super power that we should all appeal to.
Here are a few insights on how to pull back the camera, from my humble coaching experience:
If you are stuck/unhappy and unsure about your next professional move, rather than asking yourself, for example, how to position yourself internally to be considered for a quick change, or rather than looking for all the positions currently advertised, stop and ask yourself, first, how you see yourself in 5 years from now, in the bigger scheme of things? What are key parameters of success and things you must have/emotions you must experience to consider yourself happy? What else, apart from your work, is important for you? How much money do you see yourself making? What is the level of responsibility you would like to have? How much flexibility do you want to benefit from? Is work-life balance important for you? What impact do you want to have in the world and on others? That bigger picture of success vs just jumping into a new job immediately or asking for help without knowing what you want, will help you be successful on the longer run, as well as allow you to make sure that today’s change will positively impact your life tomorrow.
If you have already decided to make a change, and you know where you are headed but you are unsure as to what steps to take to make such a change successful, rather than project planning the change and creating an excel list with all the things you must do in the next few months, stop for a second, first, pull back the camera, and ask yourself: You are one year from now, and you are telling a good friend how successful you were at managing this change - what are you telling him/her? What would make you feel you managed the change successfully? Ask yourself: what are the things that won’t be there anymore for you (material things - people - habitual behaviors) once you have operated that change and how can you manage yourself and proactively manage that “ending” or that “grief” period**? What are the new behaviors you will need to exhibit to be successful in this new position/role/reality and how can you develop them? Those questions will help you be more strategic and decisive about the steps you should focus on to make your change successful.
If you are transitioning into a new/more senior role and feel insecure about your capacity to step into that role successfully, rather than ruminating about what you do not do well or what you simply do not do at all yet because you have never been in a managerial role before or have never managed a budget before, pull back the camera and ask yourself first: What are the key competencies I was hired for? How do I want to come across as a leader/manager in 6 months from now? How will my success be measured by others and by myself? And once you have a few answers to those questions, go ahead and request the type of help you may need to develop the skills or competencies you have found, after pulling back the camera, that you still need to develop.
So go ahead, stop smelling the flowers and start enjoying the forest view.
*Erika Andersen, http://erikaandersen.com
** Managing transitions, William Bridges