In my first full-time job, I had the privilege to work with a strategic, smart and shrewd thought leader we all called ‘Boss’. He saw potential in me, gave me a lot of unmerited exposure, and helped me hone my abilities.

One day during an off the hook appraisal chit chat, Boss started reflecting on his own career, and then he gave me the piece of advice that has stuck with me from that early period of my career till today.

Late last year, I came across an article titled ‘The 60-30-10 Rule. The Secret To Career Success’. It was written by one of my favorite LinkedIn writers, Jordi Alemany. This article confirmed the advice Boss gave me from observations he has made over the course of his career.

This is what Boss told me in a brotherly tone. It is paraphrased and the emphasis is mine.

“Kwamina, you are a great team player and worker. What will set you apart in your career is your personality and you have a strong likable one. To go far, you need to master the interplay of hard work, the dynamics of office politics, and relationship building. A congenial mixture of these heterogeneous qualities will set you apart. You see, the average intelligent person can equally do your work, but it is your self knowledge, self awareness, and personality that will customize the work and let you leave a legacy”.

In this article, I explain the three ingredients to a soaring career, as learnt from my boss and confirmed by my daily experiences and Alemany’s insights.


1. Workplace Politics.

I have heard lots of people say, ‘I hate politics!’ I am forced to assume that their understanding of politics is limited to partisan politics, because every decision or indecision in life is politics. It is better to learn how it works and play it to suit you if need be.

You don’t necessarily have to be in the gutters of office politics. You must be as wise as the Owl, who understands all that is going on around it, pulls the strings of politics if need be, and pretends nothing is happening when it isn’t confronted.

You can start by reading these two useful articles on office politics from  Mindtool and Pocketbook


2. Knowledge, hard work and power.

Knowledge they say is power. In certain quarters, the more knowledge you have, the higher you sit on the Organogram. This is why some workers compete with each other to acquire knowledge and try to hoard it. This is unfortunate because knowledge is like a lighted candle. if you help others light their candle, it doesn’t diminish or quench your candle light, it rather helps others see and enlighten their corners. Invariably, the whole world becomes brighter.

So go to work with your skills, talents, abilities, knowledge and personality. This will customize the work to you. Once you do that, no one can complete or copy your style of working. That will be your mark of excellence. Work hard and work smart!


3. Relationships and gelling with others

Your ability to network and build relationships will separate you from the pack. There are stories of people who lost good jobs, not because they were not competent, but because they were unable to build relationships. In many modern jobs, you will need to go with the flow and build temporal or permanent chemistry to achieve laid down objectives with teammates.

Netweaving, a higher version of networking is what can set you apart. With netweaving, you connect to other people who have robust networks, thereby creating a weave.

The advantages of netweaving are many.Most opportunities aren’t published, they cascade from our relationships through networks. If you spend time to associate with the major players in your industry, you will become commercially aware and more relevant.

Beyond certain positions, it is always someone’s recommendation that will take you to a  higher role. Your knowledge alone can give you opportunity for a few years. But when you combine knowledge with relationships, you’ll get opportunity for light years.

A perfect blend of job competence, relationship building and dealing with different people, and a mastery of workplace politics will be the perfect ingredient for a soaring career. Learn it early and maximize it. I wish you the best in your career!

Source: Kwamina Ekremet