Building a long and successful career can be a daunting prospect that is not prepared for it or has an idea of what they want to do in life. This is complicated by the fact that the majority of children in Africa go to public schools where there is no understanding on guiding and counselling on identifying their strengths, weakness and aspirations. Those that are lucky enough to be born with sliver spoons and attend private and expensive schools might not get the opportunity because their parents are too busy to have the right conversation and the schools are too commercially focused to direct these children. The unintended effect is that we have people trust into career that does not play to their strengths, making them feel like square pegs in round holes and becoming engrossed in a rat race.
The question on most reader’s lips will be but not everyone is in this position, and I agree. There are lucky ones that either have parents, relatives or teachers that will have that conversation with them at an early age or mentors and coaches at work or religious organisations that either in a structured or haphazard manner will focus them on asking the right questions and determining the right direction to take.
So, what are those questions? An online article from careercast.com listed the following as the steps to take to build a successful career; Identify with Your Goals, Build a Professional Resume, Become Aware of Your Strengths (& Weaknesses), Assume Full Responsibility for Your Life, Define and Raise Your Standards, Brand Yourself, and Network — A LOT. As a professional, I agree with this list as it encapsulates all that you must do starting from secondary school to guarantee that you develop a successful career. I say secondary school because this is the best place to start, however, you can start at any time to develop the framework for a successful career. Your motivation for choosing a career must not be for survival alone. The bible quotes “As a man thinketh in his heart so is he” Proverbs 23:7, the actions of a man working for survival is markedly different from that of some building a career. It is important that
The pressures associated with building a career is further exacerbated by the global village we currently live in. The preponderance of social media and the access granted by platforms like LinkedIn and Facebook to the global employee pool makes it important for every ambitious person to develop a global career development plan. So, what is a global career? A global career is when you are engaged with in collaboration and/or commerce with co-workers, employers, suppliers or customers located in a country other than your own. There is a glut of talent globally and discerning and strategically astute organisations recognise this and are willing to engage in this way and attract the nest talent possible. This statement implies that this is a ‘sellers’ market, in other words, the employee seeking for a global career will find it easy to get one. This cannot be further from the truth. As an executive that has worked international, mentors and continue to mentor people with local and global career, I know.
I then assume your question is: Why can I not command the global career I need and why is it not a ‘sellers’ market considering the great talent war that is going on? The answer is simple: ‘Performance, Potential, Promotion’. In Chapter 29 of Brian Tracy’s Success Blueprint, I outlined that promotion does not come from performance alone, you must exhibit the right amount of potential to be noticed and promoted. This is also true for preparing for a successful global career. I defined Performance as “the ability to execute and deliver desired outcomes” while Potential was defined as the recognised ability to handle task beyond your current levels and delivering better outcomes and moving beyond your current level of performance. Your ability to get noticed outside the shores of your country and given the opportunity to work international is dependent on your current performance and your potential.
So how can I show performance and potential? Have a plan! Personal Branding blog.com  states that you should evaluate your career goals as the first step to building a global career. While that statements seems ambiguous, I will rephrase it as develop a person al development plan that seeks to answer questions like what my strengths are, what are my weakness, what competencies do I have. What cultural differences exists between my current country and the country I want to go. The last question is one of the most important you have to answer, if you want to prepare for a successful global career. Cultural differences and how we react to them is a major reason for failure in developing a successful global career. In other words, you need to develop intercultural competence. Intercultural competence requires work beyond observing cultural diversity, language, or dialogue that is different from your own. It requires you to analyse, interpret, and respond with appropriate communication or behaviour. Therefore, developing your intercultural competences enables you to prepare for working in a foreign country, understanding the differences in culture including work ethics and excelling. Your plan must be strategic – long term with a 10-year cycle but broken down into blocks of short term (0-2 years), medium term (3-5 years) and long term (6-10 years) action plans. The plan should focus on development actions to take and continue taking to develop competencies that enhance your strengths, mitigate your weaknesses whilst taking cognisance of changes in your chosen career. Advances in technology has and continues to make career development a daunting task. There are careers today that will disappear in
as little as 2 years from today and an effective strategic plan helps you prepare for potential disruptive changes.
Leadership development is critical to the success of any career. Leadership is a function of one’s influence with this or her circle of influence which includes peers, team members, colleagues, stakeholders etc. Developing a successful global career, I have found goes beyond technical competence. It is therefore essential that anyone seeking to be successful in their career that Leadership is viewed as a core competence. Why? Leadership deals with influencing people, crafting a compelling vision and motivating team members to achieving team goals irrespective of individual circumstances. I do not advise anyone that is not willing to develop leadership as a core competence to contemplate a global career.