Recently, I had the opportunity to reflect on a question on career investment. Do Managers do enough in terms of investing in the careers of their team members? Often, employees are unclear on what they are looking to achieve in their careers. While this may simply be put down as a lack of ambition, it is undeniably important for the leader to inculcate a sense of self worth where it is lacking and encourage his team to think about themselves.
Now, each person is different and the classic mistake that one can easily make is to apply the same paint to every idol, so to speak. With career planning, it is simply not “one size fits all”. Very often, in India especially, we have kids in middle class families choosing between only Engineering or Medical streams of education in college. The main reason that this happens is because the previous generation (parents) have seen that these two fields are the most secure and “safe” for their kids in the future. The mindset carries forward, at times with poor consequences, into the office space. Too often, we are constrained with the opportunities presented to us. The adage, “Either you have a plan or else you will be part of someone else’s plan” applies perfectly to this situation.
As a leader with the potential to influence others: one has to be prepared to show their team about the possibilities that exist out there. Capt. Gopinath of Deccan Aviation pursued his own career ambitions after first being a part of the Indian Army thanks, in some part, to luck and to his own abilities before later branching out and becoming a farmer, a politician, a businessman and finally, an entrepreneur with Deccan Aviation. No one can repeat what someone else has done in their careers but they can make a start by exploring! It is not good enough for a leader to use a paintbrush approach with career development. Spend the time – invest like you would your finances – with your team on their career options and everyone will reap the rewards.