Seeing the Opportunity to Reinvent Your Career

Seeing the Opportunity to Reinvent Your Career

What looks like a career dead zone to the outside world is actually an opportunity to the driven leader.

It happens all the time– a person, most often a woman, takes a professional pause to have children. Once the children are ready for school, or once the person decides it’s time to go back, they step back into the professional world only to be confronted with questions like, “What have you been doing recently?” They encounter assumptions that they are too far out of the loop or may not be ready to adjust quickly enough to corporate life. They encounter negative biases. They encounter shut doors.

Professional pauses, such as parental leave, are the perfect time to reflect on where we want our career to go or what we want our new career to be. It is a time to reinvent and self educate. Have you changed your career around after an extended… Click To Tweet

A driven person will not stand in front of a shut door. They will anticipate the challenge and choose to act proactively. 

People take professional pauses for a variety of reasons, and these pauses are the perfect time to reflect on where we want our career to go or what we want our new career to be. It is a time to reinvent and to self educate. What the world will see as a listless cocoon, the driven leader will see as the opportunity to become ready for flight.

This is what Holly Lehman, a Program Manager at Microsoft, has done. For the past seven years, Holly has been living the Microsoft life, learning and advancing, driven by customer obsession she is now fully ingrained in the Azure Management engineering team. Holly is partnering with the most valued professional (MVP) in the customer community to provide education and receive live feedback between the customer and the engineering team. She manages the Azure Management Insiders program for customers, and engages with the Cloud Data Management MVP Community. Prior to Microsoft, Holly was a hotel manager. She took the opportunity of the professional pause of her maternity leave to reinvent her career.

Looking at our work-life time as “respecting my time” versus “managing my time,” is a more thoughtful and meaningful way to achieve that balance for ourselves and others. #levelupyourleadership #leadership #contractleaders Click To Tweet

Bruce Holoubek, owner of Contracted Leadership, and Host of The Development Exponent Podcast talks to Holly about her journey into the leadership role she has today to gain insight on the transformation of an emerging leader and the lessons that come from that growth.

Identify skills to carry over.

A key skill that Holly took from her hotel management job is the ability to connect on a human to human level with people. “You cannot brand yourself as a leader if you are unable to connect on a human level, show understanding and find something in common.”

Learn to respect your time– not manage it.

One of the first lessons Holly learned about being a new parent and back at work was on making the shift from being open to working around the clock to becoming a person who can work really hard on a strict schedule.

Limiting working hours increased her productivity and tactical thinking. As a result, Holly learned to respect and value her time more. This also forced her to be more present at home in the shorter time she had with her children. By example, this shows her children that one can be a dedicated professional but also a dedicated family person. It shows that we have to respect our time and respect other people’s time by being mentally present– right there in the moment.

You cannot brand yourself as a leader if you are unable to connect on a human level, show understanding and find something in common. #levelupyourleadership #leadership #contractleaders Click To Tweet

Looking at our work-life time as “respecting my time” versus “managing my time,” is a more thoughtful and meaningful way to achieve that balance for ourselves and others.

For developing leaders, having a manager who asks about the ongoings of life outside of work can be meaningful and helpful in that it creates an understanding of the eb and flow of events and responsibilities that may be influencing work life. Knowing what our people are going through on a weekly basis helps us decide when it’s a good time to push someone through a project that will require them to grow, versus assigning something else. It helps us assess needs and strengths.

Address the limiting beliefs of emerging leaders.

Imposter syndrome is a common limiting belief among emerging leaders. Thinking they are the only one in the room who doesn’t know or understand something is limiting and untrue.

Be excited to prove the naysayers wrong! Use their negative comments as fuel. The only one who can stop you is you. How have you used someone’s negativity to fuel your fire of success? Comment below! #levelupyourleadership #leadership… Click To Tweet

Another limiting belief is regarding full ownership of their projects: either they feel like they have to take on more than they should (doing too much), or they feel like they can’t take on what they should because of some fear of being unable to do it. Tied to this is the fear of delegating. Nudge your emerging leaders out of their boxes and encourage them to delegate creatively– perhaps even outside of their department.

One of the most damaging limiting beliefs is when emerging leaders think they have to know everything and their success is theirs alone. It’s a fast way to fail and lose respect because people want leaders who learn from their team, are guided by new ideas, and who allow others to be empowered. Good leaders provide visibility to the people who are there with them. We must share our successes to build our tribes, and in turn our tribes will support us. Shared success feeds into creating mutually meaningful work environments.

If we believe our jobs have positive influence and help to drive change, we will have inspiration to guide us and help us avoid burnout. What about your work inspires you to show up every day? Comment below! #levelupyourleadership #leadership… Click To Tweet

Make your profession mutually meaningful.

We have to believe in the work that we are doing and believe in ourselves by showing up and being authentic every single day. If we believe our jobs have positive influence and help to drive change, we will have inspiration to guide us and help us avoid burnout.

Be brave enough to fly high, but don’t fly solo– be willing to take on the risk, take on the tough new project, and be alright with asking for guidance along the way. Many successful leaders would not be where they are today without mentors and a richly developed network.

Most importantly, remember that your work has the power to affect the world in a positive way, and you have great things to contribute. Step over the threshold of your fear and walk through that door. You belong where you want to be.

People want leaders who learn from their team, are guided by new ideas, and who allow others to be empowered. Good leaders provide visibility to the people who are there with them. #levelupyourleadership #leadership #contractleaders Click To Tweet
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