Thursday, April 26, 2007

If you can't move up, branch out (10 criteria for making a lateral career move)

With corporate career paths structured less like a ladder and more like a pyramid, and it can seem like opportunities for promotion and advancement grow thinner the higher you climb.

While traditional career advancement is focused on moving up, I have seen too many high caliber women remain in their current role, hoping for a promotion, while making only incremental improvements in their leadership skill set. They risk getting bored and finding themselves in a career rut.

Instead of waiting for a promotion, a strategically chosen lateral move can be a good way to escape the rut, get re-invigorated, develop new expertise and leadership skills, and make a greater impact -- without having to throw away years of valuable relationship capital and business intelligence that you have built in your current organization.

When is a lateral move a good move? When it fulfills some or all of the following 10 elements.

You know you have made a good lateral move when:

1. You are in a division of the business that is growing, not shrinking or stagnating.

2. You are in a division of the business that is a revenue center, not a cost center.

3. You can demonstrate a link between your work effort, and business results, and make that link visible to senior leaders.

4. You report to a manager who mentors you, opens doors for you, and sends opportunities your way. Even better, work for a manager who has a manager that is doing the same for them.

5. You report to a manager whose values you respect, whose goals you can authentically align with.

6. You have opportunities to take on special projects that challenge you in new ways.

7. You gain a broader regional or global perspective of the business.

8. You can build your personal brand, or as one leader I interviewed recently described it, "establish your claim to fame".

9. You have opportunities to work with a high- performing team, who attract high-profile projects, and create an intellectually stimulating work environment.

10. You have closer proximity to mentors, sponsors and role models.

1 comment:

Dan Schawbel said...

These are great points. I think latteral moves will help you escalate up the pyramid as well because your skills will be more diversified and you will create more value in doing so.

If your interested, my blog speaks about Personal Branding at It ties into some of what you speak of.