Why you should forget climbing the corporate ladder on your own

Why you should forget climbing the corporate ladder on your own
July 12, 2022 Linda Murray

Climbing the corporate ladder can be a long, slow, and lonely experience if you do it alone.

It’s also less likely to be successful.

Let me tell you a story about a client I worked with a long time ago (names have been changed).

Susan was talented and ambitious. Her title in her school yearbook would have listed her as “The girl most likely to succeed.” She was very self-confident and believed in her ability to get to the top. She accepted every challenge that came her way and seized every advantage she could find. Let’s say her eyes were firmly focused on the top of the ladder.

After she had been with her company for two years, she had made manager. After three years, she was a senior manager. After four years, she was still a senior manager. She couldn’t understand why her career had stalled. She was still producing quality work, still snapping up every opportunity that came her way and still putting herself first.

Something was not working.

Another woman started work at the same company as Susan. Let’s call her Kate. Kate was also talented and keen to climb the corporate ladder. Unlike Susan, she chose a different way to the top. Kate helped people up when she could and was open to the advice of people who’d been in her shoes. She took but she also gave it back. She invested in her personal and professional development through a coaching program and invested her time and interest in the people around her. Kate shared her skills and knowledge and was selective about the opportunities she took, leaving some open to others more suited to them. Kate grew based on the input and feedback she received from her peers, managers and ultimately her coach. It took Kate three years to become a manager however, after four years, she had become the regional manager and Susan’s direct supervisor.

You can imagine how well that went down with Susan.

Have you ever been in this position? Or have seen it happen to someone you know?

Do you want to know why was Kate able to climb the ladder more quickly and securely?

The difference between the two was that Kate sought help, but Susan didn’t. Susan believed she could do it alone. Kate understood that corporate success is built with the help and that the people who were above her had probably sought help from their own mentors to get where they were. She followed in their footsteps.

By investing in her personal and professional development, Kate was made aware of her strengths and how to work to them. She had honest feedback about her performance and how it could be improved. She had proven herself as a team player, so her peers and leaders respected her judgement. Above all, mentoring and coaching helped clarify her path, showing which rungs to stand on and which to avoid.

Climbing the ladder takes energy, concentration and integrity but it also takes the willingness to reflect and grow. Coaching and mentoring are the best sources of feedback on performance and prospects. People in those roles will hold you accountable, and help you define daydreams from possibility. They have the experience and skills you need to develop and are willing to share them.

It is rare for things to miraculously fall into place and take you to the top without help. If that’s where you want to go, be like Kate. Work with me to get clear on where you want to go and how to get there.

Linda is an extraordinary trainer and coach. She simplifies problems and provides workable solutions that can be implemented immediately to improve the participants skill set. – Jarrod Faunt – Head of B2B Commercial at Equifax

I’ll hold that career ladder steady for you. Let’s start today. 

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