The complexity and technological changes in business today, have necessitated a fundamentally different view of how careers develop and evolve. The days of climbing the ‘corporate ladder’ are done, and our ability to renew and flex our skills will differentiate us.
The work of Edgar H. Schein on career theory and culture always stands out for me. Schein developed the concept of Career Anchors*, as a model to assist people in the workplace to think deeply about their life choices and careers. A Career Anchor is something that develops over time and evolves into a self-concept, shaping an individual’s personal identity or self-image and includes: Talents, Skills and Abilities – the things that we believe we are good at, and not so good at; Motives and Needs – what is important to us and take the form of goals, e.g. money, status, challenge, autonomy and Attitudes and Values – the kind of organisation that we feel comfortable with and matches our own beliefs and values.
As a departure point, Schein’s model will assist in grounding your view of your life and career choices with deep reflective ability enhanced. People often loose sight of themselves in a discourse on career development goals and this starting point is very useful.
That said, the question of relevancy of skills today requires us to become masterful in fundamental soft skills. A colleague in the UK recently reminded us that there is nothing soft about soft skills and indeed they are very hard (difficult) to gain proficiency.
There are no hard, written rules for what these relevant skills are and we are bombarded daily on what we should focus on. For me, it’s crystal clear. The four most important skills for success in your career going forward are:
Context and Cultural Acclimatisation – your ability to have a deep understanding of the context and culture of the place and people you choose to work with, to create authentic, vulnerable human connection
System Navigation – your ability to understand how people and processes relate across and within businesses
Performance DNA – your ability to understand what great performance looks like for yourself at the intersection of the performance expectations of your work environment
Continuous Reflection – your ability to constantly evaluate your journey and choices objectively and be flexible to changing course often
Although this not an exhaustive list of skills, your attention to these combined skills and other relevant skills, will be required to thrive, take charge and be the architect of your CAREER.
*adapted from the ‘Career Anchor Participant Workbook’ – third edition – Edgar H. Schein