Answer: So far, we have followed the stories of successful “A” team executives who reached top jobs in the PR profession and then struck out in new directions. These leaders understood the path that would take them to their goal and pursued that direction purposefully. There is a very different story to tell about Vicky. She marched to her own tune to achieve success and never carved out a comprehensive, long-term plan.
Vicky made decisions based on what fit her values and what appealed to her as new opportunities presented themselves. Or, if she felt ready to make a move, she considered what options were available at that time. In one key situation, she took the initiative to build on a prior relationship and reshaped a job. Within 6-months the job was upgraded, and she became the head of the department.
Vicky was not an opportunist, impatient for promotions or ready to “jump ship” for the “next great job.” Her path was stable, reflecting her ability to contribute to an organization in a variety of functional areas while enjoying the work.
For our other executives, answering the question of, “what’s next?” was easy to articulate until they achieved their goal. In Vicky’s case, she never knew what was next nor did she worry about it. She had confidence in her ability to sort through her options as they turned up. For her, success was based on what she valued accomplishing most (e.g. mentoring a team) rather than on an external objective.