If I could only share one tip for ensuring successful career development, it's this:
Follow the value-add.
How can you add the most value [to the market, to your audience, to your employer, to your colleagues], right now? Go there. Do that.
Ask yourself this question every day. Why? You may find periods of time where the best way for you to immediately add value remains consistent; there will also be seasons where the answer changes on a daily basis.
Let's take a closer look at how you can identify your personal value-add, by first exploring a few self-reflection questions and then looking at some examples.
- What does my [market, audience, employer, team] want right now? What do they need? And in what ways do my skills, resources, and innate gifts give them more of what they want and need?
- How can I be most helpful to my [market, audience, employer, team] right now?
- How can I be most helpful to my [market, audience, employer, team] right now, in a way that also feels good to me?
Three value-add examples
1. A store manager comes out of their office when foot traffic is high; they notice the displays are a mess, the team is giving off a frazzled vibe, and a few customers are waiting to be helped. The manager jumps in to work the floor alongside their team. The value-add: making sure the team members and customers feel taken care of.
2. A service-based business owner offers high-quality content to their audience at all pricing tiers. Quality is consistent, rather than reflective of price. Even their free content is top-notch and can be a catalyst for transformation (BTW, you know what's not valuable? A sales pitch disguised as “content”). The value-add: sharing expertise to help someone else get closer to what they want.
3. A leader stays level-headed during a crisis. As the circumstances change, they provide their team with consistent, relevant business updates and communicate new expectations, goals, and team objectives clearly, as often as needed. The value-add: creating psychological safety in the workplace.
When in doubt, show up as the best version of your role. Imagine what it would look like to be the top of the top in your position and/or industry.
It doesn't matter if you are an associate, a manager, an executive, or an entrepreneur. How can you go above-and-beyond to a) be helpful and b) elevate the experience for everyone involved?