Communication and Leadership Tactics to Take Your Career to New Heights
As a career Wall Streeter and mountaineer, I learned over the years that mountains are not climbed alone; neither are careers. Each depends on the generosity you’re willing to extend to your colleagues, known as the Law of Reciprocity. It’s a universal understanding to explain that in order to create success, extend help to others along the way. They in turn will assist and inspire you to reach your career summits.[wcm_restrict]
Mountaineering is also a metaphor for the way we climb the corporate ladder. In both cases, we set a goal, take one step at a time, and collaborate our way to the top. We bring our own ability, motivation, and mind-set on the way up.
Although I was surrounded by intelligent and competent professionals, one other observation about career climbing became evident. No matter what your job is, success will be determined:
- 5 percent by your academic credentials;
- 15 percent by your professional experiences;
- 15 percent by your natural ability; and
- 65 percent by your communication skills.
Despite evolving management theories, differing corporate cultures, and various product lines, there is one common thread that weaves its way through today’s economy: the top jobs go to the most compelling communicators. Climbing and persuasively communicating also underscore the battles we fight in our minds as we seek to define the meaning of success. They tap into the deepest understanding of ourselves and help us realize the importance of tenacity in pursuit of success. As General George Patton once said, “I don’t measure a man’s success by how high he climbs but how high he bounces back when he hits rock bottom.”
When it comes to many professional development programs, the soft skills are often ignored. It’s unfortunate. As you ascend in your career, you’ll have shifting job expectations. The higher you are on the leadership ladder, the less of the “real work” you used to do. You now lead others and are counted on to inspire, persuade, and provoke the change necessary to ensure others stay motivated and productive. Consequently, a great deal of your time is in meetings and presentations, communicating your way and motivating others to the top.
The call to action: Change the focus of your career development and learn to become an exceptional communicator. Whatever method you choose to improve your communication and presentation skills, many will seem unnatural, uncomfortable, and awkward. Communication skills and public speaking bring fear and frustration to many. Rarely do these skill developments happen spontaneously. Like climbing a mountain, your ability to speak powerfully brings a new set of struggles. In both cases, it’s in the act of overcoming challenges where professional and personal growth occurs.
Consequently, the heightened focus on these skills is not just about communicating or climbing your metaphorical mountains. It’s about you and your success – and the recognition that it’s rarely a straight line to the top. You’ll zig and you’ll zag knowing that these tools and tactics will help you to keep moving up. As you contemplate the challenges that lie ahead, look to the mountains for inspiration, and reflect on these words of wisdom to propel your career to new heights:
“Challenge is the core and mainspring of all human activity. If there’s an ocean, we cross it; if there’s a disease, we cure it; if there’s a wrong, we right it; if there’s a record, we break it; and, finally, if there’s a mountain, we climb it.”
James Ramsey Ullman
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About the Author
Chuck Garcia is the author of A Climb to the Top: Communication & Leadership Tactics to Take Your Career to New Heights. He is the founder of Climb Leadership Consulting and a Professor of Organizational Leadership at Mercy College.
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