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Plan your career methodically

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in Career Management,Workplace Communication

Bob Pozen did not climb the ladder to become president of Fidelity Management & Research Co. by planning dec­­ades in advance. Instead, he sought to maximize his skills day in and day out.

Pozen, 66, who teaches at Harvard Business School and writes frequently on public policy issues, frowns on professionals who devise a detailed career plan well into the future. He rejects questions such as, “Where do I want to be in 20 years?” in favor of adopting a mix of short-, medium- and long-term goals.

If you crane your neck too far ahead, you may lose sight of the significance of what you’re doing today and tomorrow. He urges leaders to analyze “why you are engaging in any activity and what you can expect to get out of it.”

Starting as a lawyer with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and then for a Washington, D.C., law firm, Pozen developed the habit of “backing into” each new challenge. When he joined Fidelity Investments in 1986, he wanted to switch to the client side rather than remain a legal advisor.

As he rose within Fidelity to become its president, he continually took steps to develop skills to address marketplace needs. He embraced on-the-job training opportunities, jumping at the chance to manage projects and people. He also set weekly goals that contributed to annual priorities that he wanted to achieve. At the end of each day, he’d organize his time in two columns—listing each activity on the left and its purpose on the right. Then he’d confirm that his list of purposes supported his larger priorities for the year.

— Adapted from “Bob Pozen, Master Of Extreme Productivity, Shares His 3 Most Effective Career Tips,” Drake Baer, FastCompany.com.

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