In a recent conversation with an ex-colleague, I was asked the question: “What must I do to go to the next level in my career?”.
Answering it took some thought and consideration.
There are two types of people in an organisation: managers and non-managers – and the answer to that question differs considerably for both groups.
When non-managers ask, “what must I do to be a success in my role?”, I encourage them to focus on their core competence – be the very best at what you do: Maximise your strengths; Minimise your weaknesses; Commit to continual improvement…and hopefully your manager will do the rest.
There are other less general suggestions that I offer, such as: work hard; be humble: practise discipline and good manners; communicate accurately and efficiently; and never let your manager down.
However, management requires all of the above and more.
A rather simplistic paradigm is that non-managers are responsible for effort and managers are responsible for results.
All a good manager can ask from her colleagues is that they trust her with committed effort. In turn they require management to transform the sum total of their work into results.
However, measuring management on just results can be dangerous as a utilitarian perspective to management, especially without a moral or ethical perspective, can have damaging consequences.
Instead, management must be measured on performance, which includes achieving results or objectives, but also examines the way such outcomes are achieved.
Not just, has the organisation achieved its purpose, but… Have the people in the organisation improved? Have the customers been satisfied? Has the organisation made a positive contribution to the environment it operates in?
So when a leader or manager seeks to move to the next level or understand if he or she has been successful, the test must always be about performance.
When measured objectively, if one can authentically say, s/he has a track record of continued performance over a period of time, then that manager can lay some claim to success.