Career advice, insights & tips for HR professionals
Mastery of skill 21/01/2013
If we take a leaf out of the Olympic athletes’ books, it’s not only ability, but also mental preparation, resilience, courage and risk-taking that leads the winner to the finishing line first, argues Natalie Cooper.
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- Be ambitious
- Grow & develop
- Managing upwards
- Network of relationships & credibility
- Secret to success
Yet, when it comes to the corporate world of work, many of us will have found ourselves in a toxic culture; either mired by management hierarchy, been unwittingly embroiled in office politics, or experienced a colleague / manager trampling over us – sapping our confidence, self-esteem and energy.
Now compare this to a culture with a group of individuals supporting one another, and as part of a high performing team, you go to work giving it your all so you achieve more than you ever thought capable. So how can you be champion of your own career?
“You have to really be ambitious for your life,” argues Anne Morrison, director of the BBC Academy. “Why spend it in a job that doesn’t suit you?” These wise words come from a leader who has worked her way up through the BBC over a period of 31 years. Her career journey started back in 1981 when she battled to secure a place as a general trainee at the organisation. Competition was tough with only six available traineeships, and over 6,000 applicants.
After a glittering career heading up the factual department (features and formats) for 12 years, and being the first woman to run Crimewatch, Morrison is now responsible for the BBC Academy which she set up in 2009. The Academy is divided into three colleges; journalism, production, and leadership. It also houses a Centre of Technology and she manages around 200 employees.
Last year, the Academy delivered over 50,766 face-to face days of training plus 13,259 training days online. She’s also a member of the BBC People Board, sits on the board of trustees for BAFTA and five other committees.
Grow & develop
Take yourself out of your comfort zone and do what you fear most. Take a risk, in a calculated way by mitigating the risk step-by-step. If it does go wrong – don’t catastrophize. Understand you will screw up, but ask yourself ‘what can I learn from this experience’?
Don’t shy away from what can become strengths. When you feel on the edge of your ability, be brave. I now public speak all around the world, but 20 years ago I wouldn’t have been keen to do this. It no longer holds fear for me.
Is your boss scary or are you finding it hard to relate to a manager? Rather than hiding away, you need to marshal your courage. Try to understand the other person’s motivations. What they are trying to achieve? If you can help them reach their goal, use this to try and bond with them, as this will allow you to create trust and be able to influence better.
Try and change your circumstances by looking for allies and peers in other parts of the business and vote with your feet, but don’t stay in intolerable situations.
Network of relationships & credibility
Build a network of relationships with peers and other bosses within the company. If you’re well connected and have strong relations this helps you to establish your credibility. Assume you have authority. Don’t ask for it. Behave in a powerful way. Never underestimate the power of your network.
Don’t react badly by jumping down people’s throats if they challenge you. It may be something you need to hear. Be careful how you evaluate other people’s ideas – what you may think ‘daft’ they might have worked hard on.
Secret to success
Never let anyone own the deeds to your plantation. It’s your responsibility to develop your own career. Get help and support along the way. Make sure you equip yourself with the training and skills to do your current job, but also plan for the future.
A lot of people feel they have to bluff their job – and will be giving themselves away by seeking advice but I say be shameless. If you’ve not done something before, ask for help. People do actually enjoy helping others, and what goes around, comes around.
Anne Morrison is director at BBC Academy
Anne’s background is principally in television production starting as a producer/director and rising to become controller, documentaries and contemporary factual at the BBC responsible for 1000 staff and over £100 million in programme budgets.