Career Pathing vs. Leader Pathing

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Are you developing your leadership or developing your career? I’ve already talked about how I think the term career pathing is severely overrated. Career pathing can be a selfish and “all about me” philosophy. If your primary concern is about your career, the decisions you make will be made primarily for your own benefit.

Many years ago I was blessed to lead within a large corporation. It was no different than other large entities with many employees positioning for ways to climb the ladder of success.

I’ll never forget meeting with one particular employee who outlined their career path to me and explained why they should be at a higher title level. This employee pointed out their educational accomplishments, their tenure with the company, and their various certifications. What they didn’t mention was anything about serving and mentoring others, their passion for leading teammates, and their excitement for team accomplishments.

This was a defining moment in my growth as a leader because I didn’t like the whole “career lust” feeling. It was then that I said we are throwing the term “Career Pathing” out the door in exchange for a new philosophy and focus on “Leader Pathing.”

This new approach was built upon the idea that for your career to be blessed, you must focus on becoming a better leader. The path your career takes will be determined by your ability to learn how to lead.

Career Pathing versus Leader Pathing

So how do you know if you’re focused on your career or on your growth as a leader? Here are just a few examples of the Career Path mindset versus the Leader Path mindset.

1. Career Pathing: How can I advance my career?
     Leader Pathing: How can I advance my ability to serve and lead?

The great thing about taking the Leader Pathing mindset is that while you may think your career is on the back burner, it will actually prosper because your influence and desire to develop your own leadership will positively affect those around you and draw people to follow you.

2. Career Pathing: What will I gain from this project/experience/new responsibility?
     Leader Pathing: How can we grow from this project/experience/new
     responsibility?

As I stated in my first post on this subject, Leader Pathing is focused on growth. Career Pathing, on the other hand, is only focused on ambition. Learn to lead, and you’ll bring great results to your team and your career path.

3. Career Pathing: How will my decisions affect me and my career?
     Leader Pathing: How will my decisions affect my team?

When you’re in a leadership position, the decisions you make affect more than just you. This means that sometimes you might have to make a decision that negatively impacts your career for the sake of benefiting your team.

4. Career Pathing: What’s my title in this company and who will I be over?
     Leader Pathing: What’s my role on this team and how can I serve and influence?

Leader Pathing is focused on the process. Titles and positions are secondary to what you can bring to the table and how you can grow those on your team.

5. Career Pathing: What privileges do I get to take in this position?
     Leader Pathing: What sacrifices do I need to make so I can make a bigger impact in leading my team?

If you’ve followed this blog for long, you know my stance on sacrifice and paying the price. The more influence you have, the higher the sacrifices you must make, but authentic leaders find the sacrifices are well worth it.

The bottom line is that Leader Pathing benefits everyone. It career paths the individual, but allows the individual to multiply other leaders with their impact and influential reach.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Bob Robinson March 15, 2011 at 2:58 am

The old way of leadership by manipulation, self absorption and deceit is following the path of the dinosaur. Thank for sharing and enlightening.

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