Is Your Ambition Killing Your Career?

Easy tiger! We all wanna get ahead, but being too ambitious can limit your chances for success. Georgia Clark explores if your career desire turning deadly.

Trap # 1: You chase the quick cash. You’ve spent 3+ years living on two-minute noodles at uni, so now it’s time for your just deserts. A big fat paycheque is the first step to setting you up for life – right? Think again! “The highest starting salary might actually go nowhere,” warns Kate Southam, editor of Careerone.com.au. Key questions in your First Real Job Interview must include: How soon is there a career development opportunity for me? When will I be eligible for promotion? Is there anywhere to go up in the organization or is it a flat structure? “They are the things that govern how rapidly your pay goes up,” says Kate. Also, put a fictional dollar value on your job’s intangible benefits, like how much freedom you get, whether you have an office or carspace, how close you are to the gym/ park/ awesome Thai takeway (hey, we’re only human).

CLEO says: A warm and supportive work environment is worth a gazillion dollars more than a job you totally dread.

Trap # 2: You can’t delegate. If you want something done, you’ve got to do it yourself… right? Wrong! “That is a very arrogant position to take!” says Kate. “It disempowers your team and you’ll never get promoted because you’ll be too busy doing everyone else’s job as well as your own”. Career success comes from having time and energy to take on new responsibilities, pitch new ideas or undertake external study.

CLEO says: By limiting delegation, you’re overburdening yourself and underskilling your team.

Trap # 3: You only ‘manage up’. Otherwise known as ‘all smiles for the camera, but behind closed doors, separate beds’. When the Big Cheese is doing the rounds, you’re as sweet as apple pie, but as soon as their BMW has left the building, why bother playing nice with pesky colleagues – you’re sure to be promoted ASAP cuz the Big Cheese loves your butt! “Yes, you may well get promoted, but that person you work with could be sitting on an interview panel one day,” says Kate. “You will be remembered!”

CLEO says: Manage up, down and sideways: learn to work with everyone.

Trap # 4: Your ego rules your decisions. A job opening in your team? Better see which Facebook buddy is looking for work… Uh-oh! Rather than making decisions that benefit the company, you’re making decisions which benefit YOU. This may mean hiring friends, sychophants or people with the same skill set as you who won’t ‘show you up’. It is, according to Kate, extremely common. “You see people doing that who have worked for one year or thirty years,” she says. “It’s completely counter-productive to career success. If you’re doing things to protect your ego, you’re insecure. Someone who is confident is not egotistical.”

CLEO says: If you drive your career to benefit your ego, you just end up driving in circles.

Trap # 5: You see everyone as a threat. Even the damn interns have got better ideas than me at the moment – maybe I should ‘catch them stealing stationary’… Sound familiar? If so, you’re more threatened by your co-workers than The Office’s David Brent. “Truly successful people do not think like that,” explains Kate. “They understand how important it is to keep taking onboard new ideas and experiences. If you shut everyone out, you’re working in a vacuum and you will soon sink.”

CLEO says: Surrounding yourself with successful people increases your chance for success.

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About Georgia

I'm a young adult novelist with a weakness for hot nerds and cheese platters, not necessarily in that order. I am currently working on my third novel. I'm pretty excited about having just turned 30 because it means I can justify spending a lot of time thinking about homewares.
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