How can you grow this year?

You will develop in leaps and bounds if you regularly step out of your comfort zone. Whenever we have studied high performers, we are struck by how many say they took a leap of faith at some point in their career. New challenges are disconcerting, but there are palatable ways to push yourself.

Stretch your strengths

If you don’t know what you have a knack for, jumping into a challenge with both feet is a way to find out. But failure early on can put you off taking risks in future. Better to start from a base of safety – an area of talent – and from there head into unfamiliar territory. For instance, if you are ace at bargaining, branch out into multi-party negotiations. Growth spurts come when you push yourself beyond what feels comfortable – but stop before you feel like you’re drowning.

Take on more responsibility, deal with greater complexity or go where the stakes are high in areas you excel.

Change your environment

Successful senior managers from three continents told us that a change of climate had a disproportionate impact on their growth. A stint abroad appeared to broaden their perspective and galvanised their careers. Even working in another function will expand your thinking. Plus, you can reinvent yourself in a new neighbourhood.

Transfer to another department or go the whole hog and learn to collaborate with and influence people in another country. For inspiration, check out this year’s Oscar-winning documentary American Factory about the difficulties and possibilities of meshing work cultures.

Bottle the formula

When you bump up against your boundaries, take time to review what you have absorbed. Failure isn’t the end of the world, but you will waste the experience if you don’t learn from it. Likewise, don’t make a breakthrough and then take it for granted; figure out what you can apply elsewhere.

Take stock and write down the main lessons in an easily accessible place. Pretend you are an objective third-party and ask a few colleagues for their take on why you succeeded or fell short.

Further reading


Give your resolutions a chance this year

Changing behaviour is hard, but these three strategies can help.

Read more