The Changemaker's Career Dilemma
Nov 20, 2020
As purpose led leaders, it is a constant challenge to juggle succeeding in our careers and being a change maker.
When I was 16 years old I was admitted at a prestigious French school - preparing students to become high achieving leaders and Heads of Industry. My family was delighted. For me it didn't feel right. But I wasn’t sure why.
I was a good student - aspiring to be the perfect student. Working hard to get the good grades. But I was also the one who always challenged the status quo. And tried to constantly evolve the way things were done.
I didn’t really know what to do with that. Nobody around me talked about it, nor how I could be both a good student and a changemaker. It always seemed like I could be either one or the other. In the end, I refused to go. All I could say to my furious dad was: ‘They won’t make me into the kind of leader I want to be’.
I knew it was the right thing to do. But I remember at the time thinking:’What the hell am I talking about - what does that even mean?! And what do I do now?’
I was caught between two worlds. Just like a lot of my clients are.
On the one hand, there is the world we are traditionally trained for. The perfect student becomes the good soldier in the existing system. Where we know how to win by rising to the top job. The rules of that game are clear: ’Don’t rock the boat. Be the good soldier, learn good management skills, play the politics right. And you will climb to the top.’
Then there is the other world, the one we yearn for as purpose led leaders. The one we wish to live in. Where we fundamentally up-level the game that is being played - where we innovate to create something that is better for people and planet. Where we are the fulfilled innovator change makers successfully leading the way beyond the status quo. Where we flourish, we are masterful at bringing new ways and we are celebrated and promoted for our ability to evolve things for the better.
In between those two world there is a gap - a large one. And we get caught there. The successful career calls for us to support the status quo. Whilst the changemaker job is to rock the boat. And so it leaves us with this difficult dilemma. Should I be the good soldier, please my bosses and ensure I am successful in my career? Or should I be the changemaker leader I yearn to be, fulfil my purpose but risk becoming an outlier?
The thing to understand is that the two games are fundamentally different. To succeed they require different skill sets. That’s what we miss.
We have to stop applying the old rules to the new game. I see many purpose led leaders want to be the fulfilled innovator change makers. But they get lost in the role of the good soldier to protect their career. Instead of learning how to harness their difference to make them stand out in a good way. And so they don't get the traction they need, effectiveness or recognition they really want.
That is what my 16 year old could sense but not articulate. That as purpose led leaders we need to apply new rules to a new game to both succeed at our careers and be the change makers we want to be. That means being able to bridge the gap between the change we aspire to bring and the tangible value it can contribute to the business. And turning our vision into the powerful and unique thought leadership that catapults our career to new heights.
If this resonates, let me know.
Until Next Time,
Louise is a Next Generation Leadership Catalyst and Advocate.
She helps leaders who are successful but feel that something is missing create and step into impact driven careers and leadership. Specifically she guides them align to purpose, create meaningful work and become the Next Generation Leaders they are meant to be. Aka the Visionaries, Innovators and System Shifters who are building the loving sustainable world of tomorrow where we can all flourish.
She is the Founder and CEO of Positive Energy Leaders and the Creator of The Positive Energy Academy - An online course, incubator and transformational community to find your purpose and create fulfilling, meaningful work that has a positive impact.
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