The power of taking on extra jobs

Many managers and leaders focus obsessively on their current jobs. They don't believe they can be successful without that single focus.

However, most realize that to advance your career, especially to the C-suite, you need diverse experiences in a variety of functions, industries, and geographies.

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Career

A survey of 122 senior executives from a variety of industries agreed that outside engagements were critical to leadership success now and in the future.

Meaningful engagement should be in activities that expose you to different people, information, and cultures, but is synergistic with your personal interests and your current or future primary work. Think of yourself as having a portfolio where your job is in the middle, the outside activities surround and complement it, and you use what you've learned to advance each sphere.

Although executives face a high demand on their time, private and public sector leaders believe that you can find the time if you make it a priority. (Although you may have to give up some nights or weekends.) Make sure you deliver in your job and for your family, then take on additional responsibilities.

Try to spend 10% to 20% on these "extracurricular" activities. The amount needn't be consistent every week or month.

  • Let those within your organization and your trusted contacts know that you're looking for outside activities relevant to your job or skills.
  • Explore your passions and see if groups connected to them have any open positions that will let you learn and develop.
  • Seek out friends and colleagues who already have meaningful volunteer jobs and offer your help.
  • Get your name, interests, and expertise out there through public speaking, social media, and publishing so people can offer possibilities to you.
  • Pick a role that you are passionate about and where you make a measurable contribution.

When you take on a strategic side gig, it's often wise to discuss the matter with your employer and family.

Show how the activity is relevant and how it will benefit your company and your development. If the organization you work for doesn't understand the value of an outside activity, it's at risk of becoming obsolete and should be a red flag to you.

  • Recharging your energy: When you squeeze in time for external activities, it can help you avoid burnout. You also get inspired and think thoughts that you wouldn't have otherwise.
  • Building knowledge, skills, and confidence: Outside engagement gives you new skills and, in turn, will enrich your own organization.
  • Developing a broader perspective: When you join other networks, you see the world from a different perspective that broadens your thinking.

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  • They are people persons.
  • They naturally form genuine relationships with a diverse group of executives, internally and externally.
  • People like them because they have an earnestness that causes trust and goodwill with customers, partners, and suppliers.
  • In time, these leaders naturally bring different people together to start deals and collaborations that get bigger over time.
  • They have a natural curiosity about people. They keep in touch with the people they find most interesting.

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IDEAS

Ask for help

At first, asking for help might sound like the opposite of creating your own opportunities. 

Opportunities are tied to personal relationships. Consider the Ben Franklin effect: By asking someone for a small favor, you endear them to yourself. The reason is that, when you help someone, your brain rationalizes your actions by assuming that you must like that person.

Focus on Employee Wellbeing

The more stress-free and healthy an employee is, the more he will make the company great and prosperous.

If more employers take care of their employees' personal growth, the employees will help the organization in untold ways.

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