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  • Linda R. Taliaferro

It's Not Up to Them It's Up to YOU

The executive team.

Your boss.


These are the big gatekeepers in our career, aren't they? It's from these sources that opportunities flow from. Too often, if we don't get a chance we were hoping for, we think, "Well, HR didn't tap me," or, "my boss didn't give me that opportunity."

But the reality is that even though these groups of people are important (and they are), it's not up to them whether or not you're successful in your career. You own your own opportunities, your own growth, and your own future. It's time to own it!

The good news is that owning your career is freeing and motivating, and puts you on a fast track to getting that seat at the table. The bad news is that if you own your career, you're on the hook for getting there. So how can you do it?


You can't get somewhere you've never been before without knowing the terrain, so take stock of how things get done in your organization. How do opportunities actually come about? Who decides assignments? Why do seats get filled the way they do?

Once you think you know the answers, ask yourself how you know that's how it works. Really challenge your own assumptions here, and if you have to, go and ask someone how opportunities and assignments get made. Every company has its own nuances, so understand the process in order to make sure you're working effectively within it.


What does a leader look like in your organization? What are the qualifications required? What do you need to be sure you have on lock to get to where you want to go?

Look at the people in the positions you want and notice what they've done to get there. You may want to actually sit down with them and directly ask! This might be pursuing higher education, or it might be as simple as demonstrating proficiency at a certain type of project. Maybe you need to have an international initiative under your belt before you're qualified for a higher tier of management. Maybe you need more experience leading workshops.

Whatever it is, make sure you do it.


The difference between what you have and what you need determines your game plan, so identifying your gaps is crucial. You can't fix a leaky tire unless you know where the hole is, so solicit constructive criticism and use what you learn to up your game.

You may want to request a 360 review, which is feedback from a group of your peers and managers. I had a client who had a 360 done, and using the feedback she got, she was able to get ahead much faster. Actively seeking out critique is an executive-level move that shows accountability and a genuine desire to be a better teammate, so it's an all-around win in both the short and long term.


We all have a vision for ourselves, and I know that you can get there. However, visions take work to manifest! You have to put in the extra effort to get there. My suggestions above are big, difficult, career-altering steps, and they won't happen overnight, so don't be too hard on yourself if change takes time and comes in fits and starts. No growth is a straight upwards line, so be patient.

If you want an outside opinion on your career goals, put a one-on-one with me on your calendar, and let's connect on the way that you can know your organization, know yourself, and reach those goals you've been striving towards.

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