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A lot of attention is given to overcoming mindset issues early on in your career, when many of us suffer from impostor syndrome or feel like our “dream job” is unattainable. But what happens when we climb the career ladder and become leaders? Do all our previous mindset issues magically disappear
Not quite. You might not fear you’re incompetent (although, for some people, that feeling never fades), but a whole host of new mindset issues can arise — and because they’re not talked about as much, they might not be quite as easy to identify.
Here’s what you should be looking out for.
Getting too comfortable
If you’ve enjoyed a successful career so far, chances are that you’re ambitious and conscientious by nature. It only makes sense for that attitude to continue along for the rest of your working life, right? You’d think so, but in many cases, the opposite is true.
Many people seem to reach a point where they decide their best option is to stay quiet, blend in and try not to rock the boat. What gives? They’re too comfortable. If you feel like you’ve nailed the formula in your role and everything is going fine, changing that formula can seem like too big a risk.
But this attitude is also a risk — everyone is dispensable, after all. Besides, shouldn’t we all aim to provide maximum value?
So, push yourself to do at least one thing that makes you feel uncomfortable every week — whether it’s disagreeing with someone in a meeting or volunteering to help in a project you know nothing about.
If that fills you with fear, there might also be a deeper reason why you’re afraid to push yourself and explore.
Fearing you’ll lose what you have
It’s become cliche to talk about fixed and growth mindsets, but it’s inescapable with a topic like this. Although it’s often discussed concerning the early stages of a career, those with a fixed mindset don’t magically overcome their fixed mindset when they rise in the ranks.
Early on in their careers, people are driven by their need to “prove themselves” by achieving a lot in a short time and earning respect. Those with a fixed mindset will achieve that by sticking to what they’re good at and avoiding anything they’re bad at, allowing them to climb the ladder.
But once they feel they’ve achieved a certain level of status and respect, their focus turns to desparately clinging on to what they already have. This is all because of the same logic: If people see them as incapable, they’ll lose what they have.
So many of us have adopted this way of thinking without even realizing it. Instead, try to adopt the growth mindset approach. Admit when you don’t know something and throw yourself into new ventures.
Not negotiating raises or promotions
If you’re comfortable with where you are in your career, you’re probably not going to ask for a raise or attempt to negotiate a promotion. Why risk putting yourself on the line and potentially exposing yourself as being incapable?
Fortunately, this one has a simple solution.
If you’ve been working in the same role for a year or more, don’t shy away from asking — and be prepared to move companies if you don’t get what you want.
Being too loyal to one company
It’s standard practice for ambitious professionals to jump from company to company — especially if they work in a fast-paced industry like the IT sector — so they can maximize their earning potential and seniority.
Yet when they reach a certain point in their career, a strange thing happens: They decide to stick around in the same place. Is it because they’ve found a company mission and culture they gel with, so they don’t want to move on? Or because they feel secure and comfortable?
Answering those questions requires self-reflection. But even if you have a legitimate reason for having worked at the same company for the past ten years, it’s wise to consider your options and assess any hidden mindset issues that could be holding you back from leaping.
Why not set up a few interviews? You don’t have to accept the first offer you get — think of it as testing the waters.
Shying away from innovation
Our brains are high in neuroplasticity during youth, making us sponges that naturally soak up new trends and skills. Therefore, young professionals are more likely to look at the world with fresh eyes.
As we age as professionals, we have a greater propensity to stick to the status quo and lose touch with whatever’s new. Make a conscious effort to fight this mediocrity by keeping up with what’s new and on the cutting edge of your industry.
Failing to upskill
Just as moving through our career and into the later stages of life can make us reluctant to be innovative, it can also prevent us from learning new skills.
Many mindset issues don’t have clear action points you can take to resolve them. But if you’re failing to upskill, the answer is straightforward: Proactively seek out ways to improve your skillset.
While you’re keeping up with industry trends, identify skills and knowledge gaps and fill them in — no matter how much they scare you. Further, why not see if your employer will pay for you to complete a training program or course?
You wouldn’t advise the people you lead to become complacent with their careers, so lead by example and strive to move forward in yours. That’s going to mean going deep into your insecurities and doing things that make you uncomfortable. But the return on your investment in yourself will be well worth it.