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Dr. Lois Frankel
Stop Sabotaging Your Career: 8 Proven Strategies to Succeed In Spite of Yourself, By Lois P. Frankel, Ph.D.
Key Takeaways
  • How the messages you received in childhood impact performance today
  • Capitalizing on the quid pro quo in the workplace
  • Strategies to manage your relationship with your boss
  • Tips for building strong 360 degree relationships
  • Ways to deliver difficult messages with confidence
  • Exercises for balancing detail-orientation with bigger picture thinking
Editorial Reviews

From Entrepreneur Magazine,
October, 1999

You've been praised for your skill at mastering detail, or your ability to work by yourself, or your assertiveness. In fact, you even credit your business' success to these traits that, you must humbly admit, come naturally to you.

But don't get too comfortable. Psychotherapist Lois P. Frankel, Ph.D., co-founder of Corporate Coaching International, says the very strengths on which you built your success might eventually become your undoing – unless you balance them with other abilities.

Read review and interview with Dr. Frankel

By Scott S. Smith

< back to store

Stop Sabotaging Your Career:
8 Proven Strategies to Succeed In Spite of Yourself

"A must-read for anyone who wants to make the future better than the past – and that's just about all of us."
Anne Fisher, Ask Annie Columnist, Fortune Magazine

From the inside cover...

Ten years ago when I wrote Overcoming Your Strengths: 8 Reasons Why Successful People Derail and How to Remain on Track, upon which this book is based, the world was a different place. Bill Clinton was President of the United States, terrorism was something that happened in other countries not ours, and WorldCom and Enron were well-respected companies. In the intervening decade, business has become increasingly competitive – work formerly done by Americans is now outsourced to foreign countries, laws have been enacted that circumscribe and regulate corporate governance, and a new generation of savvy, swift, and smart workers is poised to take over where the baby boomers leave off. Yet some things haven't changed. People who get and keep the jobs they want aren't always those with the highest IQ's. They aren't the people who work the hardest or stay in the office the longest hours. And they certainly aren't the people who throughout the day keep their noses to the grindstone with their mouths shut. They're the people who understand that non-technical capability (often referred to as the "soft skills") is every bit as important – if not more important – as technical competence when it comes to getting and keeping the jobs they want.

You may wonder why certain people move ahead steadily through their careers while others stall or fall from their career tracks entirely. Some folks always seem to do and say the right thing, while others can't quite figure out what it takes to become and, more important, remain successful. Regardless of career path or position, most of us have experienced being on the sidelines and watching as less qualified colleagues get the choice assignments, promotions, or developmental opportunities that are intended to groom them for the next rung of the corporate ladder. We may grumble about the injustice of it all, but rarely do we take the time to examine why this happens and what we can do to make ourselves more competitive.

After three decades as a human resources consultant and executive coach, working inside corporations and organizations worldwide, I've observed what makes certain people become and remain successful while others spin their wheels in what are at times lucrative but dead-end assignments. Corporations typically don't waste their time, energy, and resources on ne'er-do-wells, but they do put considerable effort into helping bright, capable and competent people, who are stumbling over themselves, to succeed. The cost of turnover and finding these competent people is too high to do otherwise.

I define derailment as any unexpected change in career momentum. Otherwise successful people begin to stall in their careers, or fail entirely, for seemingly inexplicable reasons. People who work hard and have been rewarded for their contributions to a firm through promotions, job assignments, or special perks and incentives suddenly find themselves being overlooked for further recognition for no apparent reason. Their opinions may no longer be solicited, they may not be included in meetings with key people or they may be given more routine, low-profile assignments than in the past. These people suddenly feel invisible.

Looking inside organizations that have downsized, it is clear that the "survivors" of ongoing layoffs are frequently not the most technically proficient, best educated, or most productive. As corporations cut more closely to the bone, there appear to be few notable differences between those who are given their pink slips and those who remain. Examining the situation more closely, what emerges is a pattern of keeping people on staff who have the widest array of technical and interpersonal capabilities, rather than those who have very specific, but more limited, ones. This is what has become known as the "best-player" approach to downsizing: keeping those people who can function in a wide variety of areas and with a diverse group of people.

Managers are forced every day to make choices between keeping and laying off people who on the surface appear to be equally qualified. How, then, do they choose one over another? The answer lies in infrequently commented on, less tangible aspects of workplace behavior. Remarks like "Steve's a great worker, cranks our the work like no one else, but he doesn't get the big picture" or "Ann is one of our most talented engineers, but she doesn't get along with people" give us our greatest clues as to what contributes to one person's longevity and another's derailment. Derailment doesn't necessarily equate to automatic layoff or termination. People who are derailed frequently simply get overlooked again and again. Their input may be ignored or they or their departments may be overlooked for further growth opportunities. Whether they are laid off, ignored, or overlooked, the result is the same: career stagnation.

The common thread for people who derail is that they exhibit superior skill in a particular area to the exclusion of developing complementary ones. Even when a change in job assignment requires them to apply a different skill set, or when they see people around them develop in diverse areas, they fail to notice that they are limiting themselves and turn up the volume on those behaviors that they already do well, hoping that doing more of the same will save them! How do intelligent people neglect to notice something as important as their own lack of a diversified approach to other people and problem solving? The answer lies in the degree to which a strength was learned and reinforced in response to early childhood experiences.

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