I’ve been spending time working on succession planning lately. I love working with leaders and having the conversation about who is performing at a high level and may be ready to take the next step in their career. One thing that comes up occasionally though is the employee who is stellar but has no interest in being promoted to the next level. It can be downright painful as the leader comes to terms with the fact that the employee just doesn’t want the job.
Fortune Magazine is reporting that Hillary Clinton has no interest in being the Vice President. Apparently, there is still speculation that Joe Biden may be dropped off the ticket and Hillary added. Click HERE for the full story. If it’s true, I think Hillary is making a smart move. Whether you agree with her politics or not, she is a good example of someone with career options. The days of a one-track career path are gone. As people expand their skills they may find that they no longer have their sights set on that VP role, myself included. I remember starting my career in HR and when my parents asked me what I wanted to be when I “grew up”, I would tell them a VP of HR.
I don’t know about you, but the older I get, the more I realize that where I hope to end up in my career has not even been created yet. Maybe it will be a VP role, but with a title like VP of Social Communication and Innovation. Who knows. What about you? What do you want to be when you grow up?
I just want to still be young when I grow up. Too often we get “grown up” when we’re grown up and we all know grown ups have NO fun!
Any job that allows me to play more than work is what I want.
Call me anything… just don’t call me late for dinner!
@Paul- Stay young my friend. Reminds me of that line from the movie ‘The Outsiders’: “Stay gold Ponyboy!”
This echoes a discussion I had with someone over the weekend. We were discussing career aspirations, and they asked what would be wrong with just having a job where you are happy and can just, you know, be. And stay in it for 20 years or so. The thought not only terrifies me, it makes my skin crawl.
I’ve had many a discussion about the value of the up-or-out mentality. It is not for everyone, to be sure, and I think the career path options you mentioned are a very real alternative. I may be perfectly comfortable in my level of responsibility, but who’s to say I couldn’t do a similar job with another department (or company) and develop a bit? It’s a valid way to keep engagement up for those who don’t want/need to advance.
For me, though, I can’t fathom reaching the peak of your career before you turn 40. Or 50. Or 60. I’m just not wired that way.
@Dwane- You bring up a good point. Like you, I am someone who always reaches for more, but without those who are content where they are, you and I would have that much more competition. Wouldn’t we?
Your post prompts the question of title vs. influence/impact. I think it is unfortunate that in many organizations it can be difficult to have influence on the direction of the business unless you have the title. My hope is the high performing person who is passing on the next level is getting complete satisfaction from the job they are doing today. I can tell you from experience that sometimes the next level brings more bureaucracy and less impact. Growing up is often exactly what it takes to learn this lesson. BTW, since you brought up Hillary, I’m kinda diggin’ the new hairdo…http://bit.ly/a5UIVS
@Shaun- The next level does bring that extra bureaucracy and for some, less impact. I think that if you’re someone who is influential without the title, by the time you are promoted and get that title, you will be able to get more done working with the people around you. It’s such a political game in most orgs. Thanks for the comment.
I have done a few things in my quest to “grow up”. But during that quest, I grew to find that I was not going to grow up. I almost grew up about ten years ago, and I have been fighting back to be me once again.
I think I am pretty well living the dream. I just wish I had a few more $$$ to live it better.
@Doug- Please do NOT grow up. You’re great just the way you are. Keep it real my friend!
a baseball player : – )
@Holly- Really? Do you at least play baseball or softball now? I’m hoping you do! Thanks for sharing with us!
I’ve spent my whole career doing things that hadn’t been thought of ten minutes before I started doing them, and it’s been a blast. When I was going off to college, the only viable professional options for women were nursing, K-12 teaching, (if you were really adventuresome in the time of 3 day layovers in Europe with a required 3 languages and nursing training) stewardess, or (and here’s where so many Ivy League English major classmates went) the bottom/typist rung in publishing. Growing older isn’t optional; growing up is.
@Naomi- You’re definitely someone I consider a pioneer when it comes to showing that women can try many different things and be successful. By not taking the well-traveled road (like teacher or stewardess) you help blaze the trail for other women who want to do something different. Thanks for sharing Naomi. You’re right….growing older isn’t optional, but growing up is. Thank you.