Are you busier than ever, but your job does not give you that heady rush anymore?

You have been on the fast growth track. You have received outstanding performance reviews! You have worked on prime projects and got noticed by the senior leadership in your organization! You know what it is to be a star performer! 

But things are not the same anymore! 

What worked for you in the past is not working for you now! You seem to be doing more of the same every day and do not remember when last you felt challenged by your work. No one seems to notice your efforts. You are frustrated and do not know how to change this situation. So you put your head down and try to deliver. You hope some miracle will happen and your boss will note your dedication and give you your due! You feel like a victim of the politics of the organization, the culture, the lack of transparency, etc. And, things can only go south from there.

Alice Walker said – The most common way people give up their power is by thinking, they don’t have any!

The first step of the solution is to believe that you are in control. This belief allows you to look for solutions. It is the bedrock of the growth mindset and helps determine what is working for you, what is not, what have you learned from the situation, and what could you do next. 

With the belief that accountability for your career resides with you, there are five elements to consider. I call them the 5 Cs of managing your career. These are – 

  1. Clarity
  2. Control
  3. Charge
  4. Connection, and
  5. Courage

Let us dig into each one of them – 

  1. Clarity – Lewis Caroll famously said, “If you do not know where you are going, any road will take you there. If you want to build a career that you enjoy, ask yourself the following questions – 
  • What does success look like in your role?
  • What is the purpose your role serves in the organization?
  • What relationships do you need to succeed?
  • What behaviors are rewarded?
  • If you have been in your current role for some time and feel that you are ready for your next challenge, think about what kind of role you want to do and who you need to be to succeed in it.

2. Control – Once you have clarity consider the following – 

  • How successfully are you serving the purpose of your role?
  • Are you in control of everything that you are supposed to deliver? 
  • Do you meet your commitments on time? 
  • Do your stakeholders feel comfortable that you are at the helm of affairs? 

 Meeting your goals is table stakes. If this is not in place, you quickly need to figure out – 

  • How can you put your arms around the basic requirements of your job? 
  • Do you need to upgrade yourself to do your job effectively?
  • Are you in the wrong job? How can you find a job that meets your skills and temperament?

3. Charge – This is about taking charge of your career. Often mid-career professionals struggle with this. They believe that they are doing great work but are not getting recognized. They are confused, frustrated, and at times angry. They don’t know how to change this scenario. This phenomenon is so common that there is a term for it – the ‘Tiara Effect”. 

From our school days, we are told that all we need to succeed is to work hard. It works when we are in school. We study hard and do well in our exams, and at the end of the year, our teachers reward our hard work with good grades, medals, and certificates. 

But things are not the same in professional life. There are no accolades for putting your head down and staying focused on your work, especially if you are a mid-senior-level professional.  

Look around you. You have reached a level where everyone is bright, works hard, and is competitive. Meeting your goals in this environment is a basic requirement. You need to shine a light on the good work that you do. Let people know of your victories. Do not assume that your boss knows about them. 

How else will you take charge of your career? Here are some reflection prompts for you– 

  • Do you know what the biggest priority is for your boss right now?
  • Are you a part of that project?
  • Do people outside of your team know unique expertise?
  • Does your boss know that you aspire for a promotion?
  • How have you helped your boss prepare the business case for your promotion?

 4. Connections – Here are some questions to evaluate your relationships at the workplace –

  • Are you a trusted ally of your boss?
  • Do you have a supportive network within and outside your organization?
  • Do you volunteer to help?
  • Do you know your boss and colleagues as people?
  • Do your colleagues know your unique strengths, passion, and pet peeves?

Once you have crossed a certain level in the organizational hierarchy, there are fewer roles at that level and beyond. Your ability to collaborate and influence becomes fundamental to your success. The more senior you are, the more important it is for you to have robust connections up, down, and across your organization.

5. Courage – This is an overarching element. It runs across every dimension of life – personal or professional. 

Our mind is designed to protect us. It does that by not letting us disturb the status quo. Anytime we want to make a change in our life, there is a lot of resistance within us, and we have innumerable reasons to not act, e.g., we are not motivated, we do not have time, there are other priorities, etc. We stay stuck in our old ways.  

But as Nelson Mandela said – Courage is not the absence of fear but the triumph over it! 

I invite you to think about which of the other Cs you will level up with courage –

  • Get clarity about your role.
  • Let your boss know that you are ready for the next challenge.
  • Get out of your comfort zone and learn a new skill.
  • Make new connections.
  • Fix what is not working. 
  • Adopt new behaviors that serve you better
  • Step out of a dead-end job or toxic work environment

Evaluate yourself on these 5Cs and determine the actions that will –

  • Earn you the reputation of being a consistent star performer, 
  • Increase your impact and influence, and 
  • Win you the opportunities you are looking for. 

I understand this is not easy. The good news is that you do not have to do this alone. I invite you to consider working with a coach if you want to fast track your career. You need a new mindset, new strategies and a new perspective to create the career that gives you impact, the roles and the rewards you want and deserve.

Book a no pressure conversation with me to connect with the vision for your career, figure out what is the missing piece, get the insight to take charge of your career.

PS – This was first published as a piece in the Your Career Matters series on LinkedIn by me.