Imagine a “You Are Here” signpost on your career roadmap. You may be gainfully employed and on a clear career path or considering new options.  You might be considering a new business start-up or an established business owner.

Regardless of where you signpost currently sits along the path of your professional life, assessing where you are in terms of your performance, skills, experience, and behavior lets you capitalize on your strengths, work on your weaknesses, take advantage of new opportunities, and mitigate potential threats.

Performance

Let’s start with performance. It goes without saying that the best method of getting the next job or client is to succeed at what you’re doing now.  Your performance is a ticket to advancement, especially when you’re in a position or situation you don’t like.  Figuring out what you don’t like affords you the opportunity to  mitigate that issue. Then you can focus on what you do want.

Skills and Knowledge

The skills and knowledge you have today, both specialized and general, may not be the skills you’ll need for your next position or opportunity.   First identify what you need to learn. Then take  a course, read a book or blog, or seek out someone who can help you.

Experience

You also need to identify what experience you have in terms of your accomplishments and the proof you have in terms of references or documented results.  Additionally think through the experience you’re going to need so you can seek out opportunities to gain that experience.  If you’ve only ever worked in one industry or career field you have depth; however, your perspective might to be narrow.   A position in another industry might help broaden your experience base.  If you’ve only worked in one specialty, seeking an opportunity in a different area might be beneficial.

Behavior

Taking stock of your behavior is essential to your current and future success. How your peers, colleagues, and clients perceive your behavior influences the quality of collaboration in your current situation and may affect the type of opportunity or reference you receive in the future.  Regardless of how good you are at what you do, failure to consistently exhibit executive level behavior will eventually catch up with you.

Understanding where you are now is the first step in building a plan for how to get to where you want to go.

Leah Ward-Lee is a management consultant based in Fernandina Beach, Florida and Dallas, Texas and the author of $1,000 Start-Ups.  Her next book, The Executive’s Toolbox, will be released soon.

Published by Leah Ward-Lee

Leah Ward-Lee, the author of "$1,000 Start-Ups", is a serial micro-entrepreneur. She opened her first business at ten after lobbying for and receiving a shoe shine kit for Christmas. She pulled her wagon through the neighborhood, going door-to-door, offering to shine her neighbor’s shoes for twenty-five cents a pair. Once her wagon was full, she took the shoes home and polished them. Unfortunately that business was short-lived. She hadn’t tagged the shoes and couldn’t remember whose shoes were whose, so her dad went with her to retrace the route until every pair was returned. Since then she’s had businesses developing and teaching college courses, instructing aerobic classes, owning half a plane that was rented to a flight and maintenance school, and renting homes. She’s also owned a consignment store, a gift shop, a gift basket business, a consulting firm, hosted The Executive Toolbox (a weekly radio show), and a publishing company. She also spent twenty years in the US Army, served as the Chief Information and Technical Officer for two major insurance companies, and has a second career as a management consultant. Leah resides in Dallas, TX and on Amelia Island with Sammy and Goliath, her two rescue dogs.

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