MIT Sloan Executive Education Blog

Tips from our faculty to make the most of national career development month

climbing a mountain

Making the time to focus on your career and professional growth can be a challenge, even in the best of circumstances. But the only person who can ensure you meet your own goals is you. In celebration of National Career Development Month, we are sharing some tips from our faculty to get you started.

Take time to make time. “No matter what your career aspirations are, you should begin by thinking carefully about why you are engaging in any activity and what you can expect to get out of it,” says productivity guru Bob Pozen. For Pozen, marrying an understanding of the big picture (your goals) to the small picture (your schedule), is the essence of productivity. Learn how to get the right work done in fewer hours in Maximizing Your Personal Productivity: How to Become an Efficient and Effective Executive.

State your ambition. If you are eyeing the C-suite, do your leaders know it? “If you don’t take a risk by making your objective known, no one else will,” says Cassandra Frangos, Executive Development & C-Suite Succession Advisor and faculty in the short course Strategies for Career Development: Charting Your Path to the C-Suite. “If your leaders commit to helping you acquire the experience you need or to put a development plan in place, then you may be onto something.”

Train your brain for career enlightenment. According to Dr. Tara Swart, teaching our brains to adopt an abundance mindset can help us manifest greater success and happiness. “If we can strip away our skepticism, the tools of manifestation and visualization are incredibly effective at freeing us of self-limiting behaviors and propelling us toward our goals and desires.” Swart reveals how the latest breakthroughs in neuroscience can bring us more success and happiness in her courses Neuroscience for Leadership, Applied Neuroscience: Unleashing Brain Power for You and Your People and Neuroscience for Business.

Seek out an executive coach. When it comes to managing career inflection points, Hal Gregersen says stop investing so much energy in coming up with better answers and start asking better questions. With that goal in mind, “seeking out an executive coach can be a tremendous help.” Gregersen suggests finding a coach who can help you do three things: surface the questions that drive your day-to-day decisions, reframe your questions to make room for new solutions, and build your capacity to start asking better questions on your own. “Better answers will come much more easily if you’re inspired by better questions.” Gregersen teaches in several Executive Education courses including Questions Are the Answer: A Breakthrough Approach to Creative Problem Solving, Innovation, and Change and Navigating Transitions During Disruptive Change.

Stop trying to be all things to all people. In today’s world, the executive’s job is no longer to command and control but to cultivate and coordinate the actions of others at all levels of the organization. “Only when leaders come to see themselves as incomplete—as having both strengths and weaknesses—will they be able to make up for their missing skills by relying on others,” says Deborah Ancona. This month, you owe it to yourself to celebrate your strengths, own your flaws, and enlist the input and leadership of others. Ancona teaches in Transforming Your Leadership Strategy and Neuroscience for Leadership, among other courses.

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