…What kind of career are you heading into?

If you’re reading this and you’re in a corporate career or any career and job where you aspire to get to the top, you’ve seen the 2 types of career survival.  I’m not referring to personality types, but career performance types, and you’re either one or the other.  Falling in between is not belonging at all; you will tend to skew one way or the other.  I’ll show you in my 20 years, and working in different parts of the world, how the types are absolutely consistent.  You’ll know how to spot them, because you know who they are.  But I’ll also show what the future holds for each.  It might be ‘crystal ball’ stuff, but it’s a tip to assess where you are today….and where you might be heading.


These are the types that sway to the ‘political wind’. They ‘tow the line’ on the top corporate agenda, whether they agree or not. They spend lots of time with senior officers of the company both privately in their offices, or socially. They have an achieveragenda but cleverly positioning themselves with the higher ups. They play themselves off on other people’s good results, as if it were their own. They copy emails to top people, and know when and how to use the ‘bcc’ email function. They CYA (that’s ‘cover your a##’ in plain English) when issues hit the fan. They manage upwards way more than spend genuine quality time with their teams and direct reports. They play the game and play it well. Either consciously, which is easy to spot in their day-to-day behaviour, or are more subtle in their ways which is the type you really have to watch yourself with. The company I worked for over 15 years had a core competency called ‘corporate savvy’. It was actually a positive employee character to foster (within limits) of pushing the agenda both downwards and upwards. It is one form of leadership when you are able to unite the teams to the company stated goals and get the employees to rally behind. But I’m not referring to the leadership characteristic. I’m talking about those that are not afraid to get to the top at whatever cost. Companies love high performance individuals, achievers—as long as credit is given where credit is due.

The problem that this type faces is that instead of getting good at leading teams, strong technical know-how, market knowledge or anything else that improves the performance of the business, they need to become skilled at the one thing that has nothing to do with business. And that’s politics. This is a ‘double-edged’ sword and can easily backfire. All is fine when how you are perceived goes down well with the higher ups in corporate management, those that can influence your future. But it can backfire once there’s a change in leadership at the top, a new company direction is taken, and typically a period of cleaning up follows; a ‘resetting’ if you will. Those that were loyal to the previous ‘regime’ become a target and are escorted out the door, and replaced by new ‘trusted’ executives that can be moulded into the new direction. Sounds kind of like politics and government, doesn’t it?

Achievers become the target of their colleagues. Their work risks being undermined, even sabotaged due to jealousy. They become a threat to their bosses who fear they will soon be replaced. They use allies, but have few friends. And the climb up the corporate ladder eventually becomes exhausting. They risk career opportunities with having to start all over again with a new company if their tactics no longer work. If you missed it, you should catch my earlier related blog post on The Ugly Secret About the Corporate Ladder.

A healthy diet of an ‘achiever’ would be their honesty, integrity, proven track record of leading teams, demonstrating know-how, and consistent business results…and then showing to those that matter. In this order.


hiderNo much really needs to be said about this group.  This type is a ‘number’ on the employee headcount. They perform necessary critical functions of the business but have no real impact in shaping the business. They have few opinions, never speak up in meetings, and love to use the phrase ‘I agree’ to anything that’s said. They do just the right amount of work so as not to attract attention to themselves. They are normally the root cause of long chain emails with hundreds of employees being ‘c.c.’d’. They are typically ‘yes’ men, or women, to the company, and go with the flow. They push bureaucracy without question, and often, do a lot of ‘covering their behinds’ (politely put!)

In today’s corporate world, it’s very difficult to get away with hiding. Organisations are becoming more and more streamlined, flatter, and employees become more critical in the make-up of project teams. There is no room for ‘hiders’ in the modern high performance organisation. They are spotted, and ruled as excess ‘fat’ in the organisation that will be trimmed away in the next budget review. Job security is no longer there for those that hide in the maze of the company structure. They wil be forced to ‘up’ their performance or pack their bags. They are one part of the cause of a lot of inefficiencies within the organisation that other good performing employees are paying for through their salaries (read earlier post on ‘Your Salary is Only Someone’s Opinion of Your True Value’).

Life Leadership - CareerCorporate life is getting tougher and tougher. Play it safe, be a ‘hider’, and you might still get your pay-check at the end of the month, and the average lifestyle that goes with it. But you will still be a target for anext cost cutting round. Aim higher, become an ‘achiever’ and you could easily be knocked-down and suffer burn out before reaching 40. You’re still a target. Everyone now is expected to get on the treadmill, and someone’s got their finger on the speed control turning it faster and faster. Keep up, fall off but get on. No spectators allowed.

Ever wondered why working for a company is not like how it was during our parents days? Why is being an employee becoming harder and harder, just to make ends meet to earn a half-decent lifestyle? Entrepreneurship will become the top career in the next 10 years, as frustration will lead the bold to begin controlling their own lives. If you want to find out, you need to CLICK HERE to get a terrific business movie documentary about what’s going on in the world, and what are our options. It’s absolutely **FREE** and my ‘thank you’ to you for taking time out with me today to discover something new.

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‘Climb your mountain..and see what’s on the other side’!

Ian Billingham - Life Leadership Entrepreneur