When I watch television programmes like The Apprentice (#TheApprentice) I always pay attention to the ways in which candidates appear to limit themselves. Time after time, in the boardroom, candidates defend themselves with their claims that they can sell, or project manage (when they are not trying to point out each others failings). As a coach, I always try to notice the ways in which people could improve and realise their potential.
What the candidates don’t appear to understand, is that the ability to sell or manage a task are ‘givens’. To get the investment, Alan Sugar appears to expect that people are competent in these areas. From time to time he also expects that candidates also live up to their stated abilities – notable this series was the finance person who didn’t work out the break even on the coach tour they were required to organise and make money from. Business is about getting money from your customers bank account into your own, so you have to sell, but you also have to manage your business, market and lead.
So, what is it that they really need to demonstrate to be in with a chance of winning the investment? Enthusiasm and motivation are not enough – Lord Sugar has an affinity for the pushy young things that remind him of his younger self. However when it comes to cool, hard cash, he is not sentimental and doesn’t risk his money. The winners tend to be the ones who are focused, innovative and who have the ability to listen.
There is a fantastic book “What got you here, won’t get you there ” by Marshall Goldsmith (put it on your Christmas list). This underlines the personal challenge, highlighted by The Apprentice, that to get on you have to change the game. Being a great sales person may get you to the top of the sales charts, however to be Sales Director needs a different set of skills. They may need to be good team people, able to plan, calm in a crisis, great problem solvers… the list is long. So, it really is a case of what got you here, is unlikely to get you further.
The good news is that this doesn’t have to be a problem. If you want to get on in your career, look at what your manager/leader does. What skills and abilities do they have that you haven’t? What do their managers have in terms of skills and competencies that your manager doesn’t have? Build a roadmap and then look for opportunities to build these skills. Competencies are like muscles – they need exercising to develop them.
At the end of the day, you have a choice. To carry on with a one dimensional skillset and hope that success comes your way, or to overtly work on achieving the next rung of success on the career ladder and start stacking the odds in your favour. If the answer to every problem is a sales pitch (which is the default approach in The Apprentice), what do you do when the sales pitch doesn’t work. This is why many of the candidates don’t convince… success is about so much more than ability to sell.
What is it that you do that will help you in your next role? What will hold you back? Have you ever thought about it?
Christmas is a great time to reflect and take stock. Think about where you are and enjoy the feeing of achievement. It took hard work, guts and dedication to get where you are now. Congratulate yourself on a job well done. Then think about the next challenge, what do you have to do to overcome that one? Look at the gaps, create a plan and seek out the opportunities to develop the skills and experience you are going to need going forward. Then go out and do – don’t resolve to do, take action and make it happen.
If you need help, give me a call. I’d be happy to help you identify your development needs and more importantly help you decide how you are going to make your dreams a reality.