Dale Kurow Executive Coach
“My time spent with Dale was absolutely instrumental to the growth of my leadership skills. Let me be on record that this document does not do justice to the profound effect that Dale had on me and will have on me for the rest of my managing life.”

Jonathan Lederer, VP, Sales, Popkin Software,
New York City

Strutting Your Stuff

This month, I focus on another chapter of the new book, "The
5 Patterns of Extraordinary Careers" by James Citrin and Richard Smith.

This chapter highlights the difference between direct vs. implied permission and strategies for both.

What's this got to do with strutting your stuff? Everything.

One key to having an extraordinary career depends upon your getting the opportunity to show what you can do. If you're never in a position to perform at your best or implement the innovative solutions that nobody else has thought of, you will be like the girl never asked to the dance.

In order to get the chance at a career-making project or job, you either need to be given permission (direct permission) or take it (implied permission). Here are selected strategies for both:


* Ask.
Go ahead and speak with your boss or the powers that be and tell them what you want. Asking is the most obvious method, and sometimes the most effective.

* Demonstrate Competency.
Analyze the competencies that are required for the role you seek. Break the job into specific tasks, and then find ways to get experience in each of them. Speak with an incumbent in the job (outside your company), and get information about the specific skill sets that are required.

* Strategic Mentoring.
Find a mentor who will be your champion and to whom you can give back to as well. Getting your mentor's expertise before negotiating for your desired goal can tip the scale in your favor.


* Start Over.
When I was promoted out of a secretarial role at Charles of the Ritz, some managers continued to regard me as a secretary. Their reluctance to accept me as an equal made it difficult for me to gain their respect or do my job. This directly impacted my performance and my ability to grow in the company. It wasn't until I changed jobs that I left the baggage of my secretarial title behind. Sometimes, you need to be somewhere new to get the recognition and responsibility you have earned.

* Get Credentials.
Additional education will often provide the imprimatur you need to advance to the next level. For example, an MBA, JD or CPA can be particularly effective early in your career. Consider getting an industry certification or enrolling in an executive education program if you are mid-career or beyond.

* Barter.
For example, find a colleague who has expertise in an area you're interested in, but no time or impetus to use those skill sets. If you can provide the structure and drive to move a project forward, s/he could provide the knowledge. An example of this is when two people co-author a book.

Some words of caution: The absence of permission is not carte blanche to push ahead without forethought. You need to get prior buy-in for your ideas, or you could alienate your peers and jeopardize your success.

Enlist support among your colleagues, and gain the appropriate levels of direct and implied permission. That will enable you to have the backing you need when sailing into new territory.


"The 5 Patterns of Extraordinary Careers"
by James M. Citrin and Richard A. Smith

"Leading Up: How to Lead Your Boss So You Both Win"
by Michael Useem

"Leadership Without Easy Answers"
by Ronald Heifetz

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Dale Kurow, Career & Executive Coach, 175 W. 76th St., New York, NY 10023