Career Advice

4 Career Lessons from the Headlines of 2013

Mark Smith Posted by Mark
min read
Neonbrand Y 6rq St Qbyq Unsplash

It has been an eventful 2013, with major world events including conflicts, natural disasters, sport and political wins and losses. I thought I would take a look at 4 prominent world citizens and take some career lessons from the events of 2013.

1. Kim Jong-un's Execution of Jang Song-thaek

We learned last week that Jang Song-thaek had been executed in North Korea for what his nephew describes as ‘dirty political ambition'! Definitely a lesson here in how not to manage your career. Although you may not be executed by your boss, you may very well have your career stymied, or you may even be forced to leave if you engage in behaviour that ultimately undermines your boss. In the modern workplace you could translate Jang’s treachery into not working as a team or actively working against the objectives of your company or manager.

You should work with your boss, not against him or her. Remember he is also trying to further his career, so you should be seen as a conduit, not a hurdle, for him to achieve his own goals. In my career, I have hired people who want my job. They know, as do I, that I want to progress and won’t be working in the same role forever.  Working collaboratively will benefit everyone. Jang should have thought about that before attempting his (alleged) coup!

2. Julia Gillard's Downfall

Politics in Australia have been tumultuous in 2013, and I thought there were a couple of very prudent lessons from the downfall of Julia Gillard. In business and in political life, a manager should always ‘do what you say you are going to do’. Julia Gillard’s back flip on carbon pricing caused many to doubt her integrity on other issues (irrespective of their political allegiances), and consequently she was unable to maintain either the voting public or her caucus. In your career, delivering on promises and setting and achieving goals will also determine the likelihood of promotion.

I suppose another quick lesson from the politics of 2013 is to know your value in the market.  Kevin Rudd’s return was based on opinion polls. In your career, before asking for a promotion or change in remuneration, you need to fully understand your value in the market. I wonder what Kevin believed he was worth?

3. Pope Benedict XVI's Resignation

Of course there will be times in your career when you will have to resign, and I think the best example of this in 2013 was Pope Benedict XVI. Citing a ‘lack of strength of mind and body’, he resigned with dignity, leaving the Church stronger.

Similarly, when you do leave an employer, do so with dignity, work hard until the end of your employment, ensuring your legacy and more importantly your references are valuable.

4. Coach Mickey Arthur's Exit

Finally, and probably controversially, I wanted to mention the Australian cricket team and the forced resignation of coach Mickey Arthur. Mickey was an accomplished cricketer and coach. His credentials were not in doubt. Unfortunately, he was unable to build loyalty and provide leadership to the team, which ultimately lead to his downfall.

The best credentialed managers cannot achieve change without having their staff share their ‘vision’. It’s important to note that leadership is earned, not appointed, and loyalty is built. So if your career aspirations include managing staff, don’t neglect them. Communicate your message, engage, involve and, most importantly, treat them with respect to ensure they will work hard with you and not for you.