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Nobody stands up at the Oscars, the Golden Globes or any other event where individuals are recognized and says in their acceptance speech, "Thanks, I did this all myself!".
Not only would this be seen as arrogant (to say the least) but the reality is, it's not true or even possible. No one can really "shine" without the expertise, coaching, knowledge or help of others.
When Morgan Freeman won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for Million Dollar Baby he said, "I want to thank everybody and anybody who ever had anything at all to do with the making of this picture." (That probably pretty well covered it!)
At the 76th Academy Awards where "Lord of the Rings: Return of the King" won all 11 categories it had been nominated for, host Billy Chrystal quipped "It's now official. There is no one left to thank in New Zealand".
Politicians who get elected (or not) thank the teams behind them, winning sports competitors, recipients of academic awards and Nobel prizes, top business people, in fact, any individual who achieves success, knows that they needed the support of others to achieve their individual accomplishments.
It makes sense that this theory applies to us mere mortals and the achievement of our goals....because they are just as important to us as internationally recognized accolades are to actors in Hollywood or players in Grand Slam tournaments.
You are probably part of many teams - the sports you play, the people you work with, project teams and many, many more.
What about your career development? Do you have a team behind you?
I don't mean the actual group of people you work with...but a team you have assembled to help you achieve your potential?
If you play a sport, you may (or may not), have a team that you compete with - depending on the activity of course...but there may be a team that enables your sporting prowess.
The coach (if you play on a team) or a personal trainer if you work out as an individual. The physio if you injure yourself. And perhaps a sports masseuse if you treat yourself to a post game/workout massage. A family member who supports you in your nutritional choices, your friends who are interested in how you are playing/progressing and even the team at the sports nutrition shop that are providing your vitamins (I suppose this example is a bit of a giveaway about the much larger than expected team I have put together to support me in my recent foray into working with a personal trainer!).
But you get the idea.
There's a lot of people needed behind the scenes required to pursue a goal.
A "career team" may never know they are part of your personally appointed entourage or hold a meeting - but they all can play a vitally important role to make sure that you can be your best.
Which raises the question, who do you need on your "career team"?
From my experience there are 5 types of people that are vital:
The Manager...sometimes in organizations you get the experience of working with an amazing manager who provides you with knowledge, develops your skills and supplies valuable insights. Other times, you get a shocker (I'm guessing no further explanation is needed - you know what I mean?).
Regardless, there is always something you can learn from a manager. In the case of a "bad" one you might learn what not to do. There is no gain in having a painful relationship with them and being adversarial...it will only make your life miserable. Even worse this person has a degree of organizational positioning over you and could block your development or opportunities in other ways. At the very least, you want a relationship where they are not going to stand in your way.
If you get a good manager - take full advantage and learn everything you can and develop a relationship where they can become a mentor, sponsor or trusted adviser.
The Mentor...your manager may fulfill the criteria of a mentor providing you with coaching, expertise and guidance...but you get them for free with your job. The opportunity is to broaden your team and add one or more people with specific skills, experience or knowledge that you have identified you want to develop. You may have one or several...it all depends on what you have worked out you need.
The Trusted Adviser...this is the person that you trust absolutely, knows you well and that you respect. Where a mentor might gently guide you - this is the person you can go to when things go wrong or you don't know where to turn. The person who will tell you like it is.
Often these relationships are built on mutual trust and respect so you might play the same role for them.
The Sponsor...now this person might not be front and center of your team. But they're there...talking you up, recommending you for projects, roles or promotions. They may not be in your immediate sphere and they may not telling you that they are recommending or speaking well of you. But if your career antenna is working - you'll get to hear who they are.
Even if you never know - they can make a tremendous contribution.
The way you develop sponsors?
Build a positive professional reputation by doing a great job and being true to your Operating Style (how you work).
The Fan...this may seem a bit self indulgent but having a fan (or more than one) can be good for your ego. Developing a career is a bit like a marathon and some stretches are harder than others and it's just really nice to know that someone thinks you are doing a great job and admires you.
A fan can also help you 'lift your game'. When you have someone looking up to you as a role model it can keep you motivated to do your best (or not slack off!)
So the next question is, do you have all these people on your team?
Can you actually put a name to them as you read through?
Once you know who you need you can do something about it!
If you've got the roles all covered...excellent...Please share with us how they are helping you.