Successful leaders have the ability to not only adapt to change, but also to take advantage of it and thrive during times of upheaval, uncertainty, and transition.
Globalization and technological advances are driving rapid and unpredictable change across all sectors. Take a look at what your industry looked like a century ago (or even ten years ago), if it even existed back then, and then factor in the reality that the pace of change is increasing exponentially all the time.
Chances are that what you initially trained for (or are preparing to train for) will look different or change during the course of your career, and not just once or twice.
Even within the finance sector, you might start out in corporate accounting, branch out into e-commerce, launch a start-up and move into a management leadership role, sell it and transition into investing, and move on from there into a field that doesn’t even exist yet.
Career trajectories and education have changed. The field of finance is expanding and transforming at an exponential rate. Getting comfortable with change and learning how to make the most of it is critical to your success. Here’s how to make the most of it.
Find Your Anchor
If you look at innovators, disrupters, and notable leaders, then you’ll notice that they’re not wildly creative and invested in the change in every part of their life. Many people find change uncomfortable, even frightening. You need to be aware of your fear or discomfort, acknowledge it, and accept it. It’s human nature and nothing to be ashamed of
At the same time, you need to overcome this limitation in order to succeed. Naming and accepting your fear can help, but you also need an anchor. Spend some time deciding what matters to you. There’s a range of possibilities. Some are immutable, fixed points such as values, principles, and beliefs.
You might identify some other elements that are on the more frivolous side, such as Steve Jobs’ black turtleneck or Mark Zuckerberg’s gray hoodie. Familiar things that don’t require your thought or attention can be comforting and help you feel secure and confident as you face change in other areas.
Monitor the Trends
Spend some time on an ongoing basis monitoring emerging trends, both in your industry and across other sectors, for wider social and technological movements.
The sooner you can spot change coming, the longer you have to get used to it, adjust, and get comfortable with it – you don’t want to be caught with your head in the sand.
This is also an effective way to position yourself for career success. If you’ve been monitoring new trends in financial theory or technology, or in broader trends in the world around you, then you’re more likely to be able to take advantage of that knowledge to provide exceptional value to an employer, be the only person ready to take on that new position, target a blue sky market for your business, or invest early in the next big thing.
Invest in Your Network
Speaking of investment, building a strong network is an excellent way to insulate yourself against potential damage caused by change while positioning yourself to take advantage of opportunities and land on your feet during unexpected changes.
A strong network is one that can improve your awareness of new developments, open up new positions, and help you find the right staff when you’re in a position to be looking. It offers information, partnerships, and practical and emotional support. It lasts because people have the capacity to change and grow in ways that few other resources offer.
Study Success Stories
Look to leaders and professionals who have successfully navigated change over the course of their careers for lessons on how to move forward.
Take note of stories in the finance industry as well as other even unrelated sectors for transferable skills. You may not remain in the same sector throughout your career, and the lessons learned by leaders in other areas can still be valuable for your experience.
Mark Green started his career in the US Army, went on to a career as a doctor and medical company leader, and then moved into politics. In many ways, success stories that cross multiple sectors like this can offer the most insights into how to thrive during dramatic change.
Focus on not just surviving a change in your career, but also in using it as a springboard to further opportunity. Grounding yourself in unchanging, familiar things from personal values to fashion, diet or entertainment choices can provide comfort and familiarity that build a sort of security buffer against the shock of change.
Monitoring trends and emerging change can give you a longer runway to prepare, and build a strong network can open up an opportunity and help you surge ahead.
Are you dealing with changes in your career?