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What’s your idea of success?

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in Career Management,Workplace Communication

How do you use your skills and role as a manager to help the team achieve success? Well, it likely depends on how you, personally, define success.

Career consultant Howard Figler long ago suggested that we assess our personal ideas of success to point us toward the right roles in the workplace. The same advice holds for managers. Assess yourself by rating yourself from zero to 10 ("don't agree at all" to "totally agree") on the following nine dimensions.

1. Personal gain. Success means earning as much money as you can, having the possessions that go with it, and gaining as high a position in your career as possible.

2. Challenge. Success means working with people who are on the cutting edge of their fields and testing your abilities to the fullest, breaking new ground, and experiencing self-discovery and personal achievement.

3. Creativity. Success means creating new ideas and communicating them, expressing yourself in ways that you value and having free self-expression and an appropriate audience for it.

4. Stability. Success means organizing your life for security and comfort and having a career with economic, personal and geographical stability.

5. Social responsibility. Success means being of service to others and responding to the needs of individuals, groups and communities.

6. Enjoyment. Success means deriving immediate pleasure from your work and enjoying the job, the people you work with, and the tasks and projects you work on.

7. Family. Success means being able to meet your family's needs, including your family in your work and in the benefits of your work, and being valued by your family for your work.

8. Lifestyle. Success means creating an environment for living that is suited to your non-work priorities such as health, recreation, geography and cultural interests.

9. Minimum work. Success means working as little as possible and being free to engage in other activities, or at least planning in this direction if it's not possible immediately.

What do your scores mean?

Obviously, there are no right or wrong answers. The dimensions in the order listed above form a sort of continuum, from more work-centered to less. But there are certainly people who, for example, want money and status and want to work as little as possible.

Whatever your answers are, they may give you insight into the way you manage. If your personal idea of success tends to be less work-centered, you may demand less from some team members than they're willing to give, or vice versa. You may tend to have a higher opinion of workers who seem to share your view of success, regardless of their actual performance.

And your efforts to motivate employees may have more to do with your ideas of success than with theirs. Indeed, you might want to share this exercise with all your team members. Remind them that there's no right answer—but see if the answers they provide shed any light on your team's dynamics and performance.

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