Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Herminia Ibarra's Six Ways to Grow Your Job

Herminia Ibarra, author of Working Identity, has recently posted six tips detailing how we can get more out of our current roles on HBR's blog. However, that advice equally applies to career practitioners in guiding our clients.

Herminia's tips were the result of discussions she had with Exec MBA students at Insead, where she lectures.

However, as the HBR blog entries often require a membership sign in, so I decided to summarise what Herminia said so that you can all enjoy.
  1. "Stay alert and attuned to your environment". Analyse and understand the external environment as much as the internal. For example, you could use the management models PESTELID (political, economic, socio-cultural, technological, environmental, legal, informational and demographic), SWOT (ie strengths, weaknesses, opportunities & threats) and Porters Five Forces so you understand your organisation and yourself.
  2. "Make strategy your day job, no matter what your title is". Think strategically about your job, so you are considering where you go from here, what you might want to do. Follow opinion leaders, gurus, do some reading, join some groups, get a mentor.
  3. "Create slack in your schedule". This allow you time to plan where to, for you, from where you are now. Allow yourself time to think and learn. One of Herminia's students summed this up perfectly: “We all managed to make time for our executive MBAs, while still doing our day jobs. When the program ends, don’t let the day job reabsorb the learning time.  Keep the time to evolve your work”.
  4. "Sign up for a project outside your main area". Understanding the larger picture of your organisation will help you build broader internal networks, develop deeper understanding of your organisation, and of yourself and your talents.
  5. "Expand your contribution from the outside in". If you can't find something within your organisation, look outside to professional organisations, volunteer or board roles for something that will benefit both yourself and your organisation. Attend some conferences, write a paper; network and expand your area of influence.
  6. "Learn to delegate once and for all". Don't go through the budget line by line looking for efficiencies; delegate it to the people who are working with the budget items and ask them. This empowers those doing the work and means we move from micro-managing to leading.
When we start to get off track, we can always go back and ask ourselves four very simple but key questions which are still emblazoned on my brain long after completing my management degree (and I will tentatively attribute this to Robbins, 1991):

Where are we now
Where do we want to go
How are we going to get there
How will we stay on course

So this takes us right back to self-leadership, and our own acts of leadership.

  • Ibarra, Herminia (25 September 2013). Six Ways to Grow Your Job. HBR Blog. Retrieved 1 October 2013 from http://blogs.hbr.org/2013/09/six-ways-to-grow-your-job/
  • Robbins, Stephen P. (1991). Management (Third Edition). USA: Prentice-Hall International Edition


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