What It Takes to Avoid Derailing Your Career

The correct answer to this week’s quiz is all of the above, A through C. It’s a trick question because advancing as well as protecting one’s career is a tricky proposition. It’s tempting to say A, competency, is the single most important quality to possess. After all, what’s more fundamental than can you do the job well? And yet, as a university department chair said to me in an interview years ago: “We know you’ll publish and be good in the classroom. What we want to know is can we stand to go to lunch with you for the next 20 or more years?” So in lots of ways, B, compatibility, can you get along with others, proves more decisive in one’s career. Finally, don’t underestimate option C, commitment. Sure, on day one you want to do the job well and get along with others. After three to five years into the job, however, when you’ve been disappointed by sundry developments within your department, can you still summon the energy to care? It’s hard to fake being excited to be there. They give Oscars in Hollywood for playing a role, but you may not be an A-list actor day in and day out.

Released today: episode #62 of my podcast series “Dan Hill’s EQ Spotlight,” featuring Gorick Ng discussing The Unspoken Rules: Secrets to Starting Your Career Off Right. Click here to get to the new episode. 

Gorick Ng is a career adviser at Harvard College. He’s also managed new employees at the Boston Consulting Group, worked in investment banking at Credit Suisse, and been a researcher with the Managing the Future of Work project at Harvard Business School. Gorick’s book has been featured on “The Today Show,” CNBC, and in the New York TimesWall Street Journal, and Fast Company

Dan Hill, PhD, is the president of Sensory Logic, Inc.

When Change “Gets to You”

Real change is never easy. Witness the couple made famous this week for brandishing guns in front of their five-story mansion in west St. Louis. A stream of Black Lives Matter protesters are walking to the mayor’s house nearby. It’s anger meets anger, and fortunately nobody got hurt.

Now, I admit that when I first saw the media coverage, I half-wanted to laugh. The guy reminds me more of Ned Beatty’s hapless suburbanite character in Deliverance than he does a stalwart Burt Reynolds. So I expected to find fear on the guy’s face. But make no mistake about it, the man and his wife are both mad. Eyebrows lowered, mouths tight, they’re determined but not equally irate. Her eyes are glaringly wide and her mouth is tighter, more defiant than her husband’s. It’s probably good that the wife was carrying the lesser weapon of the two. When I watched the guy on Chris Cuomo’s CNN show, I was surprised to hear that he’s apparently a Black Lives Matter supporter.

All of this just goes to show that when change comes – no matter how warranted – human beings are unlikely to take it well. This is true for work and home life, too. Truly embracing change is the topic and expertise of this week’s guest on my podcast. For her book, she conducted research that found that when companies re-organize to address a changing marketplace (think “needed” change), one-fifth of all managers qualify as worried skeptics. Could that number be higher? The St Louis couple’s reaction suggests that change can “get to us” in alarming ways, even when needed change comes to our own neighborhood.

Amid Change, What Type of Employee Are You?

Released today: episode 8 of Dan Hill’s EQ Spotlight podcast, featuring Charlene Li, the author of The Disruption Mindset:Why Some Organizations Transform While Others Fail

IdeaPress Publishing 2019

What does it take for a company’s culture to enable ongoing growth?

Li is the author of six books, including the New York Times bestseller, Open Leadership, and is also the co-author of Groundswell. She is the Founder and Senior Fellow at Altimeter, a research and consulting firm, as well as a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Business School.

Topics covered in this episode include:

  • Five kinds of employees, and how that that model feeds into the four archetypes of disruptive leaders: steadfast managers, realist optimists, worried skeptics, and agent provocateurs.
  • How mid-size companies can avoid the “permafrost” layer that limits the flexibility of larger companies. 
  • How is the challenge of being a disruptive leader different if you’re female or a minority member versus being a white male?

Dan Hill, PhD, is the President of Sensory Logic, Inc.