John is off today. This is a post from Nov. 30, 2010.
“In life we can have results or reasons. If you are not getting the results you want, your reasons are the lies you keep telling yourself.”
— Harald Anders, “Be Realistic: Create a Miracle”
This applies to our careers, our performance, and our relationships.
A great friend, a genuinely nice man who I admire enormously, was frustrated by a sudden change of events. After a successful and principled tenure at a public hospital, he resigned over what he felt were troubling ethical governance issues. He went on to interview for other jobs, all without result. He was smart, intelligent and experienced. He had impressive recommendations –some of the best I have seen in my search career — and a 25-plus year record of accomplishment in a branch of the armed forces medical service corps. However he decided to retire rather than endure any more unsuccessful executive searches.
When it was suggested that he hire a career coach to improve his interviewing skills my friend responded with pent-up frustration, that he had been successfully advancing his career for all his professional life and did not see a need to change his style or approach at this stage of his career. In other words, what worked in the past should apply today.
What a shame. What a loss for the hospital management industry. What my friend apparently did not consider was that his military career DID NOT prepare him for the rigors of the civilian market search process, including competitive interviewing.
In dozens of interviews with former Army, Air Force and Navy healthcare professionals I learned that advancement in the military is based almost solely on past performance and relationships, not the actual interview with a new commanding officer. Former military officers say, almost without exception, that their success in advancing in the civilian market was due to two things: performance, and improving their interviewing skills.
This rule also applies to executives who have risen in their careers through the civilian ranks. The rules of career management, including networking and interviewing skills, have changed dramatically over the past five to seven years. What worked for career advancement earlier in your career, probably will not be effective today. New interviewing techniques, web-based networking tools, search engines that collect and store information regarding your accomplishments or failures, and performance expectations come together to make this an entirely different game.
In an increasingly difficult employment environment, with fewer jobs due to market consolidation and reductions in the number of leadership positions in anticipation of the impending cuts in Medicare funding, career/ personal brand management – exceptional performance, great presence, solid communication/interviewing skills and laser-like honesty regarding areas for self-improvement — will become indispensable qualities.
Pushing back on this reality will only lead to early retirement or a new career.
My friend did not see the need to make the change, but if he had, there is no doubt in my mind he would have become an accomplished physician CEO. Do not let your ego or a stubborn streak allow others to shape your career.
That is a rule that applies to us all, not just to my friend.
“At the end of each day, you should play back the tapes of your performance. The results should either applaud you or prod you.”
– Jim Rohn