What is a Unique Contributor? Employers that are committed to engaging the reliable strengths of their teams cultivate what we call a Unique Contributor business model. These employers have a direct line of sight to their best competitive advantage, their secret weapon to ongoing growth, their talent base.
What about you? Knowledge of your true strengths for your career will help to discern a sustainable and enjoyable career path. To achieve this, you must help your direct leaders engage your strengths in work beyond daily responsibilities. You can assist leaders in building an environment that encourages personal development. Beyond skills and knowledge, a unique personal contribution to company growth also utilizes your natural talents to power your success.
Careers evolve and unfold over many years, even decades. So how can you be sure that you are on the right path, and that you will get to the next phase of professional growth? Help your employer to understand your goals. To envision a path to becoming a true business contributor, take a step back from your daily responsibilities and reflect on the work you do best.
Ask yourself the following five questions:
- How fulfilled do I feel? This is often about whether you can express your values at work. Identify what’s most important to you and then consider, “On a scale of 1-10, where 10 is the ideal, how well am I able to express this value in my current role?”
- How am I learning and growing? To what extent are you building competence or expertise in your role? What competencies do you want to develop further, and by when? Without learning we are victim to burnout. Make learning a habit and your path to growth will be clear.
- Am I headed toward a long-term goal? While everyone hates the question “Where do you want to be in 10 years?” stepping back to figure out a broad vision can help you pursue opportunities more proactively, versus reactively. Long term career goals need context. You might ask yourself “what do I want my (work) life to look like in three to five years?”
- What seeds can I plant today that will benefit me tomorrow? Career success is often the result of the cumulative effects of small, regular actions. Build on the current year, determine doable actions toward growth and consider how the results multiply growth over time.
- What relationships do I need to build in order to realize my vision? You cannot do it alone, no matter what the “it” is. Given your goals, who are the people that can help you get there?