<img src="https://certify.alexametrics.com/atrk.gif?account=mZnsn1QolK1052" style="display:none" height="1" width="1" alt="">

How Redefining Success Can Help Executive Coaching Clients

How Redefining Success Can Help Executive Coaching ClientsOver ten years ago, I read a great book The Five Patterns of Extraordinary Careers by James Citrin and Richard Smith. I pulled the book from my dusty bookshelf the other day and began reading it again. It is interesting that many insights in the book are still very relevant to the Charlotte and Atlanta executive coaching clients that we serve.

In the book, Smith and Citrin outline five patterns that they observed and researched regarding successful executives they have worked with at Spencer Stuart (a leading executive search firm). Defying conventional wisdom that says luck or politics are why some executives succeed while others do not, the authors point out five consistent patterns that define success:

  1. Understanding The Value of You
  2. Practice Benevolent Leadership
  3. Overcome The Permission Paradox
  4. Differentiate Using The 20/80 Principle
  5. Find The Right Fit (strengths, passions and people)

Before we begin going into the five patterns, it is first beneficial to start with how the authors define an “extraordinary career.” Smith and Citrin define it as consisting of three elements:

  1. Playing to your strengths
  2. Setting your passions free
  3. Fitting comfortably with your workplace culture

It is interesting to note that money, status and power, the conventional metrics of how people define career success, are not listed. The authors say the three elements have to be achieved in order for everything else to work. A high salary will not compensate for a position that you hate.

So what are the patterns that define extraordinary careers?

Pattern 1 – Understand the Value of You

Successful professionals recognize that their total value goes beyond the monetary and includes the intellectual capital and experiences that they have gained over the years. They recognize that opportunities that will strengthen their experience represent long term and lasting value.

Pattern 2 – Practice Benevolent Leadership

Contrary to the belief that career success is a result of personal effort and doing better than your competitors in the organization, successful professionals gravitate to others that are talented and learn to share and collaborate. They put self-interest behind in order to promote the goals of the team. They are willing to overly share credit and take most of the blame.

Pattern 3 – Overcome the Permission Paradox

The permission paradox is where “without experience, it is virtually impossible to get the desired job, but without the job, it is impossible to gain the requisite experience.” Smith and Citrin point out that there are two types of permission – direct and implied. Direct permission is where you ask and are granted permission to do something. Implied permission is where you assume permission is granted because you have not been told that you cannot do something.

Successful professionals learn to use the power of implied permission to redefine their job responsibilities and expand the scope. If the professional performs well in the expanded role, the direct permission or promotion will follow

Pattern 4 – Differentiate Using the 20/80 Principle

The 20/80 rule dictates that 20% of the effort generates 80% of the results. It then stands to reason that you will want to focus on this area so that you can generate the greatest value. The challenge comes in finding ways to navigate how to deliver on the remaining 20% of results that are created by less strategic/mundane activity. Successful professionals learn how to best allocate their time so that they get the important things done and do not under deliver on the lower impact areas.

Pattern 5 – Find the Right Fit

The last pattern is finding the right fit in terms of the responsibilities of the position, the culture of the company and doing things that will grow and excite you. This means that you look at your career progression as a series of experiences that you can grow from rather than a ladder where you gain more responsibility. By focusing on experiences that are built on their core values, successful professionals create longer lasting and more fulfilling careers that are less likely to derail.