Career progression and the lateral advantage

Early in my career I would never have contemplated going anywhere but up. Sound familiar? Many of us have been there, and likely many currently on our teams have that mindset. In hindsight, I absolutely wouldn’t be where I am today were it not for a wise mentor who pulled me aside and uttered these magic words: “How about making a lateral move?”
At the time, I looked at him like he had six eyeballs. Today, however, I look back with a tremendous sense of gratitude to a leader who saw my potential and took a personal interest in shaping my future. After years serving in sales, sales leadership and business development roles, I took his advice and stepped into an operations management role, a lateral move, and found new opportunities to excel.
Be honest about the plan
Today it excites me to think about the opportunity to influence the career direction of so many gifted professionals. I would urge you to consider how you too can best move others to new heights by taking a genuine interest in their success. Chances are you have the insight to help them realize their potential and tap new talents and capabilities they don’t even know they have.
Sounds easy enough but, no doubt, instilling enough confidence in one to push him or her outside of a well-defined comfort zone can be daunting. And a word to the wise: be honest. If you see potential, prepare for the conversation and do your best to paint a picture of the course one can chart with added experience under his or her belt.
“You aren’t going to enjoy it,” were the very honest, unsettling words my mentor shared. Without a full conversation I may never have taken on a multiline P&L responsibility, or a special project involving a complete organizational redesign from a pillared department to one that excelled through multifunctional teams, though it turned out to be an incredibly rewarding experience, to say the least.
The next time you find yourself speaking with a restless or passionate colleague who feels like every move has to be up and out, or in the form of a stellar promotion or big title, take a moment to underscore the importance of having a plan, one that allows for a little enlightenment in a broader journey along the way.
Short-term pain, long-term gain
Smart people learn new skills quickly. Good managerial skills transfer across disciplines. Uncertainty and doubt are ever-present until you get into a new role and apply your intellect, people-building and managerial skills. A good solid career path should afford everyone the opportunity to do just that.

Without a leader who took a personal interest, it never would have dawned on me to pursue a path that proved so essential to where I am today. It can be well worth it in the end to make a less lucrative move in the short run as a foundation for your future success and the larger opportunity to influence the success of those around you.

This column is brought to you by The Huntington National Bank, Member FDIC. Rick Remiker is Senior Executive Vice President, Director of Commercial Banking at Huntington Bank. Reach him at [email protected] or (614) 480-3242.