Five Career Killers For High Achievers

Sections of this topic

    Why is it so many smart, ambitious professionals are less productive and satisfied than they should or could be?

    If you’re a high achiever, then you’re used to winning and you’re accustomed to turning out remarkable performance. But what happens when you’re in over your head or find yourself in hot water with your boss or on a career treadmill that’s going nowhere fast or dealing with a career challenge that can bring you down?
    That’s when I’m called in, as an executive and career coach, to either fix it or at least to get these high achievers back on track. What I have found is that high performers exhibit five typical behaviors which can get them into trouble. In fact, these are behaviors that helped them succeed initially but now get in the way of their success.
    • Highly motivated: Achievers take their work seriously, but they fail to see the difference between the urgent and the merely important – a potential path to burnout.
    • Competitive: Achievers go overboard in their competitive drive; they compare themselves to others. This leads to a chronic sense of not “making it” which may lead to potential career missteps.
    • Safe risk takers: Because achievers are so passionate about success, they shy away from risk and the unknown. They won’t stray far from their comfort zone.
    • Guilt-ridden: No matter how much they accomplish, achievers believe it’s never enough. They want more. When they complete a milestone, they don’t take the time to savor the moment. They push on to another challenge and another.
    • Doers: Because nobody can do it as well or as quickly as others can, achievers drift into poor delegation or micromanagement. They get so caught up in tasks that people issues get pushed aside.

    Which ones get you into trouble? And will they or are they stalling your leadership or career?

    If so, here’s how to deal with your personal “snakes” and get out of the sand traps of being a high achiever:
    1. Use your support network.
    High achievers are very independent. But, everyone needs guidance and different perspectives. Ask people around you what skills and experiences they think you need to reach the next level.
    2. Be vulnerable.
    Many high achievers are reluctant to acknowledge uncertainty or mistakes. Open yourself up to new learning experiences that make you feel uncertain or even inept. Remember in order to grow professionally you may need to change.
    3. Work smarter, not harder.
    Are you doing work that really matters? Focus your energy on the ‘important’, not just the ‘urgent’. Don’t hold on to every decision or project. Rather let go, delegate and realize that a strong team will make your leadership stronger.

    Career Success Tip:

    The more you know, the more you need to realize how much you don’t know. There’s always room for improvement. It’s also helpful to keep ones success in perspective. As the great executive coach Marshall Goldsmith said: “What got you here won’t get you there. Also see Are You About to Lose Your Job?

    Do you want to develop Career Smarts?