In my 15+ years of corporate experience spanning across global corporations, medium size companies and start-ups in both India and USA I have seen a tiny minority (less than 5%) of professionals who have built holistic careers where they are able to get success, fulfilment and meaning from their work. They are popularly known as the “rock star” in their respective organizations.
I have researched, studied and interviewed many such “rock star” professionals on their career journey and have observed that there are three distinct characteristics that define their career.
First and foremost of them is that they have crystal clarity on their career path. They have chosen a career that is best-fit for them, have a clear vision for their career and are so inspired to work that they go above and beyond their call of duty.
Second characteristic is that they are constantly and progressively growing in the career. Every 2 to 3 years they are either getting bigger roles and responsibilities or more autonomy or authority to do their work or they are expanding their skillset.
Third characteristic is that they get rewarded both financially (in terms of salary, bonus, perks etc.) and non-financially (awards, recognition etc.) on a regular basis which in turn motivates them to raise their performance.
WHAT IS AN ICONIC CAREER?
I have coined the term “Iconic Career” to define a career where professionals are able to find clarity, growth and rewards in a continuous and progressive manner. In other words such a career is an icon or role model for all professionals to learn from, follow, get inspired and emulate as much as possible.
If you build an “Iconic Career” then you will find success, fulfilment and meaning from work, all at the same time.
HOW TO BUILD AN ICONIC CAREER?
There are 5 strategies which will enable you to build a truly Iconic Career in the 21st century.
Your ideal or best-fit career is the one that has a strong personal alignment. In other words, your ideal career needs to align with your core values, interests, strengths, personality and career/life aspirations. Those professionals who make career choices and decisions based more on personal alignment and less on external factors like opinion of people or material needs are more likely to find their ideal career and get success, fulfilment and meaning from their work.
In order to be successful at work you need to acquire both technical skills and soft skills. Technical skills are specific to a particular job and are required to do the job well. Soft skills are supportive skills which are not specific to any job and can be transferred from one job to another. It is essential that professionals do a skills gap analysis, identify the skills they need to acquire or hone and create a skill development plan so they are fully equipped to do the job well and deliver against expectations.
It has been observed that the primary difference between successful and unsuccessful professionals is that successful professionals write clear goals and work towards achieving them. They also have a clear vision about where they want to be in the next 3-5 years. Creating a career plan where you are writing your vision, mission and goals and executing it flawlessly will enable you to fulfill all your career aspirations.
A strong personal brand sends out a clear message about who you are, what you stand for and the values you embrace. A well communicated personal brand will help you gain competitive advantage, credibility, visibility, authority and marketability, all of which are essential for career growth and success. At the same, for working professionals, it is essential that your personal brand aligns well with the corporate brand of your employer.
It is a widely accepted rule in both corporate and business circles that developing a business executive mind-set is an essential requirement for success. A professional with a business executive mindset thinks and acts like a CEO. He is focused on both the present as well as the future of work. He understands the big picture of where he fits in and how his career and business will evolve in the future. He has a clear career vision which is aligned with his passion, purpose and expertise. As a result he is always in the driver’s seat and has full control of his career growth.
If you build an iconic career you will find success, fulfilment and meaning from your work. In order to build an iconic career you have to seek three things i.e., clarity, growth and rewards. There are five areas which need to be addressed in order to build an iconic career namely career choice, skills, career plan, personal brand and mind-set.
QUESTIONS TO PONDER
Q1. Do you love what you are doing?
Q2. Do you have the right skills required for you to grow in your career?
Q3. Have you set career goals for the next 3-5 years?
Q4. Do people recognize and reward you for your work?
Q5. Do you have the CEO mindset?