We’ve seen it in the real-life board room, in politics and even on television shows: people we think will go far in their careers, but end up shooting themselves in the foot. Whether it’s a top sales exec, a rock-star or first-string footballer, the ability to derail a career is one that transcends job title, pay grade and industry.
How does that happen? How can such a smart, successful person make such a life-altering mistake? Here are six of the top ways we’ve seen people at the top shoot themselves (and their careers) in the foot:
- Assuming past success translate to future projects: The problem with success is that is can breed arrogance over time. After experiencing a series of successes, we tend to think: why wouldn’t this pattern continue? Over-confidence can seriously affect the future of one’s career.
- Stop paying attention to detail: With more success comes more responsibility, more opportunity and less time; unfortunately, the first thing to go is attention to detail. Getting busy allows things to slip through the cracks and sometimes, the damage is irreversible.
- Look past strengths and weaknesses: Assuming we can be experts in every field, overlooking our strengths and weaknesses, is a slippery slope. The most successful executives in the long-run never forget their weaknesses when they look in the mirror. It’s important to surround ourselves with people who can cover our weaknesses because they have strengths in those areas.
- Disregard different opinions: No one likes to be told they’re wrong, but when we become the boss, it’s sometimes easier to tell someone they just aren’t a fit for the team than look at our mistake head-on. It’s important to avoid surrounding yourself with “yes men” and realize that we all make mistakes.
- Forgetting to be nice: There’s an old saying: “be nice to people on your way up, because you’ll also see them on your way down.” We all have highs and lows in a career; no matter how successful you are in the moment, you inevitably will get knocked down by something or someone. Therefore, don’t alienate people – you may need their help in the future.
- Don’t build bridges with senior team members: We live in a world where relationships matter; we can’t survive in the business world thinking that our successes will speak for themselves. You should always be selling yourself and your accomplishments, making new connections along the way – especially with team members. You never know who may stick up for you down the road.
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