Judy Dobles, General Management Consulting YOUR TOUGHEST BUSINESS CHALLENGES SOLVED.

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  • Career Planning – advice from a great CFO

    During the middle of my career, I had the good fortune to work with Harry Kavetas, a capable and insightful CFO. One of our conversations focused on career planning. The insights I gained are timeless. So, I would like to share with you in the hope these insights might be beneficial to you and your team.

    (1) Have FUN. Fun is fundamental, universal and necessary. If your job is not fun, it is probably time for a move.
    (2) The distinction between your professional and personal life is not always clear. Know the tradeoffs that accompany your aspirations. Write them down on a piece of paper. (Unless you can clearly articulate them in prose, you probably have not thought them out thoroughly.) Share them with the significant others in your life. The career choices you make will impact people near and dear to you.
    (3) A core set of required capabilities are table-stakes for every job. However, two intangible criteria, reputation and credibility, are critical. Your personal credibility is built over time by doing what you say what you are going to do. To obtain jobs of increasing responsibility, you must have the confidence of the people in power. No matter how good you are, if they do not have this confidence in you, you will not be put into positions of increasing responsibility.
    (4) Never let your manager be surprised.
    (5) Dive into problems. Wade into the middle of thorny issues. Your job is to search for opportunities, economic value and “the truth”. Never pull back from an issue because it is difficult. You must share the “brutal, crystal clear truth” at all times. Remember, this is never anything personal…. just the truth and only the truth. Also, sometimes the truth is not self-evident. You will hear two sides to each story, and the answer is usually somewhere in the middle. Always listen to both sides.
    (6) Know if you are in the game or out of the game. Know if you have made it into the qualifying round. Know the competition – both internal and external. Be brutally honest with yourself about your shortcomings. Know how you can improve and work on it.
    (7) Get meetings with key clients. Ask them how they think you are doing. Know that every time you have a meeting with a senior person, not only are they listening to the specific job content, but they are also forming judgments about your broader capabilities. (Everything is a test.) Take every opportunity you can to seek performance feedback, especially when something does not go well. Always do a post-mortem. Ask what could you, personally, have done differently to change the outcome. Always have one idea and assimilate it into your future behavior.
    (8) No one will tell you, “You won’t get the job”. Ask. Know that as the number of jobs gets smaller, the odds of getting a particular job also get smaller. (Example: there is only one CFO position at a company.)
    (9) The most important criteria for determing your ability to assume and achieve greater responsibility are past outcomes. What tangible things have you accomplished?
    (10) Keep your options open. At some point, decisions become mutually exclusive. At that point, to take one path means that others close behind you. Once you are on a new path, other options open up that you may not have known ever existed.
    (11) What do you have a burning desire to do? You must have a passion about what you want to accomplish. It shows if you don’t.

    In the final analysis, your hopes, dreams and aspirations are personal. They are different for each of us; hence, there is no right answer. Follow the saying, “To thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.” — Shakespeare. Know what you want, let your supervisor know, and work together to achieve it.

    Published on February 20, 2012 · Filed under: Career Planning, Coaching, Leadership; Tagged as: , ,
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