6 behaviors that will knock your career off track

Getting bumped off the track on your way to the top of the ladder is every high-achiever’s recurring nightmare. How can you be sure it doesn’t happen to you? Review these six indicators of career derailment. If any of them describe you, you’ll know what areas you need to work on:

1. Disagreements with Higher Management

Obviously, this is a no-no, even if your point of view is correct. Those who would rather be right than promoted almost always get their wish.

2. Problems with Team Building

You need to be good at spotting talent. Building diversity, developing the individuals who report to you and helping your people work together effectively are core capabilities that you can’t do without for very long.

3. Problems Developing Working Relationships

If people don’t want to be around you, your career is in trouble. Bullying, isolation and being out of the loop all torpedo corporate careers.

4. Lack of Follow-Through

When you consistently forget to follow up on promises and don’t attend to important details, people notice and question the wisdom of handing you anything else to forget.

5. Difficulty Moving from a Technical to a Strategic Level

Here’s where many people can stumble and find themselves unable to go beyond what they know in order to formulate more complex strategies. If you’re on your way up the ladder from a more technical role, be sure to ask your boss for some feedback as to whether your strategic skills need honing.

6. Assuming Something (Or Someone) Other Than Your Own Hard Work Will Take You Where You Want to Go

Being overly dependent on a powerful boss or some other advocate, or even on your natural talent, sometimes causes high-potential people to get a little lazy. “I know I’ll make VP this spring, because all the important people are on my side,” a rising young star once said. Wrong — he was passed on the inside lane by somebody who had just made a great presentation to the senior VP. The only person who can get you noticed and promoted is you.


Anything on that list sound familiar? If not, take a second look or consult a friend. Psychologists tell us that self-evaluation is a terrible indicator of performance. To be on the safe side, ask somebody who knows you well (and will tell you the truth) to have a look at the list and give you some objective feedback.

When it comes to keeping your career on track, what you don’t know about yourself could definitely hurt you.

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