Establish Habits That Accelerate Your Career Success

In this blog series, our mbaMission Career Coaches offer invaluable advice and industry-related news to help you actively manage your career. Topics include building your network, learning from mistakes and setbacks, perfecting your written communication, and mastering even the toughest interviews. To schedule a free half-hour consultation with one of our mbaMission Career Coaches, click here.

With many of our readers graduating (or getting ready to graduate), we think this is an appropriate time to share insights from the new book How Women Rise: Break the 12 Habits Holding You Back from Your Next Raise, Promotion, or Job by Sally Helgesen and Marshall Goldsmith. This book examines 12 habits often exhibited by women that can limit their career success.

Although the book highlights many interesting stories and shares helpful suggestions for excelling in the workplace, we wanted to share six insights we feel are relevant to women launching their post-MBA careers:

  1. Define your purpose (i.e., what you want to achieve now and in the future). This will help you be strategic about how you spend your time and will enable you to articulate your mission to others. Find a partner to hold you accountable for achieving these goals.
  2. Take responsibility for getting noticed by sharing what you are doing, what you have accomplished, and what motivates you. Doing so does not make you self-centered; it signals that you value your contributions and are ready to rise. And when you are complimented, do not qualify it (e.g., “Thank you, but my whole team…). Just say, “Thank you.”
  3. Build allies and leverage them. Women who assume new positions often resolve to keep their heads down until they have mastered the details of the job. Instead, ask, “Who can help me make this job a success?” (and then connect with that person) as well as “What do I need to learn/do?” and “How can I excel at this job?”
  4. View feedback as an opportunity to grow. Do not give negative feedback the power to make you feel undervalued or discouraged. Instead, thank the person who shared the feedback and focus on identifying how to change your behavior in the future.
  5. Avoid trying to be perfect, because this keeps you focused on the details and distracts you from the big picture. Of course, excelling at your job is critical. But focusing too much on perfection can make taking the necessary risks or innovating more challenging.
  6. Demonstrate your value through your word choice and vocal tone. Words such as “just,” “only,” and “quick” suggest you do not think you are worthy of somebody’s time. Convey certainty and preparation through your speech by avoiding phrases such as “you probably thought of this before,” and do not raise your voice at the end of a sentence.

We believe that if you follow these tips, observe cultural norms in your new workplace, and leverage your MBA learning, you will be off to a good start in your post-MBA career. We wish you the best of luck!

Have you been admitted to business school? If so, do you want to get a head start on defining your career goals? Do you need help preparing for job interviews or learning how to effectively network with your target employers? Or maybe you want to be a top performer in your current role but are unsure how to maximize your potential. Let an mbaMission Career Coach help via a free 30-minute consultation

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