Many workers are beginning to recognize the need to redefine career success in new ways. With fewer promises of progression by way of promotion and with today’s fluid, highly responsive organizational structures, we can no longer evaluate career success against the broadly accepted criteria from the past: movement ever forward toward that higher position.

So, if our former definition of success was based in outward advancement that may be less available today, how can employees find career satisfaction? It all comes down to crafting contemporary definitions that reflect and support current business realities. Three key elements are emerging as alternatives to the old “onward and upward” model: growth, gratitude, and generosity.

Growth

For too long, growth and promotions went hand in hand. Development meant moving into new roles that would offer different opportunities. Today’s environment demands that we uncouple these factors. Growth is possible and available right where any employee finds him or herself. (read more…)

Until teleportation becomes the norm, frequent travel is simply a fact of life for leaders in the modern business world.

As companies continue to grow more reliant on foreign markets, face-to-face meetings remain essential, especially when managing a global team. Tools like Skype have helped bridge global communication gaps, but no technology can supplant in-person interactions — with your team or with your family.

In the meantime, you’ll have to find ways to maintain a healthy family-travel balance, which is no simple task.

The hardships of the road

Travel inflicts a number of stresses on family life. Missing out on the day-to-day bustle — from soccer games to keeping up on your kids’ schooling to basic conversations — can easily disrupt your family dynamic.

It sometimes feels like reentering family life is the hardest part of being gone. You have to tread lightly and be careful not to upset decisions made in your absence. (read more…)

Did you ever look around in amazement at people around you who have achieved extraordinary things, yet don’t appear to be all that extraordinary?

These are people who have greatly succeeded in business, in politics, in the arts, in sports, or in some other space, but in many respects seem pretty much on par with you (or even inferior) in terms of core abilities and talents. How is it, you wonder, that they “made it” in such a robust manner while you continue to middle along in relative obscurity, earning a pedestrian income and feeling somewhat unfulfilled?

Without question, there are many factors that maybe at play. Perhaps these individuals in fact possess special qualities and were able to leverage them to achieve success. Maybe they benefited from favorable timing, connections, family wealth or other advantages that helped propel them onto a higher plateau.

Those are the easy answers. Others have succeeded more than me because of their superior tools and/or their good fortune. (read more…)

Today’s business world is fast-paced and complex. Opportunities emerge quickly (and disappear rapidly), new threats emerge continuously, and globalization opens up new markets that require intimate local knowledge.

In this volatile and ever-changing environment, new managers matter. They’re on the front lines with your workforce, your customers, your competitors, and your markets. They have tremendous potential, and some of them will become your organization’s future executives. It’s easy to simply rely on your new managers to take care of the management basics — assigning workloads, supervising others, approving vacation requests, managing budgets, and conducting performance reviews — but there is another role that they can, and should, step into: the role of leader.

New managers — with their enthusiasm, energy, and fresh ideas –can be positioned to become effective as leaders if they’re properly developed from the beginning. Forward-looking executives are recognizing that developing new leaders is vital in order to keep up with the pace of change in the business world, and to address the leadership skills gap emerging as boomers retire. (read more…)

“Now, remember, Ben likes to shake things up; don’t be afraid to stand up to him.”

This was my boss, Eric, coaching me on an upcoming first-time meeting with a powerful VP in our organization. I was an ambitious young professional, recently hired from the outside and ready to make my mark at the new company. Eric realized my potential and arranged a meeting with Ben so that I could demo some new training materials that were being set up for Ben’s area of responsibility.

The meeting started well enough but then devolved into a train wreck as I struggled to maintain my composure with Ben’s “shaking things up.” He poked holes in my assertions, challenged my ideas and didn’t let up for almost 45 minutes. I left that meeting thinking, “I will never work for that man. He’s a tyrant.”

I received no sympathy from Eric. “I told you he was going to be tough,” my typically easy-going boss said in stern reproach. (read more…)