Know Your Niche: 5 Leadership Quotes about Finding Your Career Sweet Spot

Like this on Facebook

Have you ever asked yourself “What’s my career superpower?” Okay, maybe not, but before you roll your eyes at the suggestion, here’s something I have discovered: seasoned leaders are able to succinctly articulate what they do well, why their skills are uniquely valuable, and how this differentiates them from their peers. It is one reason why they are where they are today.

So before climbing the career ladder, it can be helpful to ask yourself, “Is my ladder propped against the right building?” In other words, what is your niche? Don’t just focus on getting the next job. Sustainable, long-term advancement comes more easily when you set out on the right career trajectory in the first place.

Instead of committing yourself to simply “getting ahead,” do some serious self-reflection and identify a career “sweet spot,” or niche, that fits your passions, values, and strengths—and is sought after by your company or industry.

To help you find your sweet spot, I’ve corralled some of my favorite leadership quotes and gathered them here to help you systematically drill down to find the secret ingredient in your professional awesomesauce.

1. Know your vision, values, and goals

Romea Smith is the Senior Vice President of Customer Support for CA Technologies. Romea suggests that you, “Establish your personal vision, values, and goals because if you have those, you know where you want to go. It helps you to see when there are opportunities that fit in with that vision. It keeps you from going on a path that is not consistent with what you believe in.”

Romea continues, “If we have a clear idea of what our personal values are, then we don’t take on things that cause us to sacrifice our self-esteem or integrity. We know exactly what we need to sustain us and to fulfill the goals that we have set out to achieve, and we apologize to no one for that. Knowing our own personal values allows us to understand how the organizational values align with our own.”

2. Identify your passion and where it fits

Sharell Sandvoss is the Vice President and Finance Director Europe for Brown-Forman Beverages, whose portfolio includes such brands as Jack Daniels, Canadian Mist and Southern Comfort. With a passion for fine spirits and bold leadership, Sharell is a perfect fit for the organizational vision of her company.

But what about you? What is your niche and how can it help you and your company grow together? To find out, Sharell suggests, “Know your passion and evaluate how it fits with your role, your company, and the strategy of the company. Make sure you’re comfortable doing what it is that you want to do. It’s the best for you, your company, and your career in general.”

3. Develop your own style

As the Territory Services Leader for IBM, Debra Aerne knows both the value of leadership and of crafting one’s own style while moving up the corporate ladder. Indeed, that’s her advice for emerging leaders: “Develop your own style,” she recommends. “Figure out what works for you and mold the process to match your strengths. Building on that style, be thoughtful and define what success means to you. Don’t look at how other people do it and try to emulate that because if it’s not genuine, it won’t be true, and it won’t reflect well on you.”

4. Know what you’re not good at

Jill Jones is Executive Vice President and President, North America and Latin America for the Brown-Forman Corporation. Jill believes strongly that you should, “Know what you are good at and what you are not good at. Before you take a job,” she warns, “sit down and ask yourself, ‘What am I really, really good at and what do I need to develop?’ Then ask, ‘What does the job call for, and am I a good match for that? Can I be successful?’ If it is not a good match, will you be able to develop that skill set? That is the first hurdle.”

5. Know yourself and be authentic

Dara Bazzano Jones, VP of Finance, Controller, GAP Inc., has the final word when it comes to identifying your career sweet spot, and it’s a fitting message for any stage of your career.

“Know yourself and be authentic,” she says. “People know when you’re a fake, and they’re not going to trust or respect you if that’s the case. So, be who it is that you are. You’ll be amazed at how much further you’ll get within an organization when you embrace being yourself.”

This starts with being real about the job, the opportunity it presents, and whether or not it’s the right fit. Finally, Dara suggests, “If your skill sets match up to the job, then ask yourself, ‘Is this someone I want to work for?’ Even if you have everything worked out, even if it’s a promotion, if you don’t want to work for this person, in the end, it either breaks your spirit, or you don’t succeed.”

The Takeaway: What’s Your Sweet Spot?

Now put it all together to identify your ideal career niche. Ask yourself: What could you be doing more of in your career that aligns your passions and strengths? Is there something you’re great at, that you could do in your own authentic style? Would it be possible to maneuver into a role or career path where you get to do all of that, while delivering a service to your company or industry that will have you be sought after and highly valued?

Once you find it, Kieth Cockrell, Divestiture Executive with Bank of America would encourage you to stick with it, and make a difference. “Do your best to stay in your leadership sweet spot,” he urges, “because it’s not work; it’s not hard for you; it just comes very naturally and you have the opportunity to be impactful.”

So before you take your next step up the corporate ladder, make sure it’s in the direction of your sweet spot!

Jo Miller

A leading authority on women’s leadership, Jo Miller is a sought-after, dynamic, and engaging speaker, delivering more than 70 speaking presentations annually to audiences of up to 1,200 women. Her expertise lies in helping women lead, climb, and thrive in their corporate careers. Jo has traveled widely in Europe, North America, Asia Pacific, and the Middle East to deliver keynotes and teach workshops for women’s leadership conferences, women’s professional associations, and Fortune 1000 corporate women’s initiatives. Jo is founding editor of BeLeaderly.com. Learn more about her speaking engagements at www.JoMiller.net and follow @Jo_Miller on Twitter.

Recommended

How do I build influencing skills?

I got an email today from Amy, who works in the energy industry. She asked, “My biggest question about becoming a leader is… how do ...

Ask Jo: Interviewing for a new job with a current employer.

Question: Jo, can I pick your brain about a quick question that I have? I am interviewing for a new role at the place where I ...

How to Be Promotable: Two Quick Tips from a Talent Development Expert

“Develop and empower others. If you cannot be replaced, you cannot be promoted.” — @RobertFSolomon Robert Solomon is Director of Talent Development with the Network ...

Ready to lead?

We'll show you how!
Get email updates from Be Leaderly.

Our mission is to provide the career strategies that help you lead, climb and thrive as a rising woman of influence.

Four Types of Questions To Ask Your Mentor

Have conversations with your mentor gotten a bit repetitive lately? Perhaps you approached ...

5 Ways to be a Leader, Not a Manager

Have you ever wondered about the difference between a manager and a leader? ...

How to Shut Down a Colleague Who Takes Credit for Your Work

Has this ever happened to you? You’re in a meeting and the unthinkable ...

15 Songs for Your Leadership Playlist

It was one of those conference moments I’ll never forget: Carly Fiorina had ...

10 Killer Leadership Skills: The Great Differentiators?

Last week at Hallmark I hosted a couple gentlemen from a partner company. ...

Influencing Without Authority—Using Your Six Sources of Influence

I am in the difficult situation of being unofficial project lead, responsible for ...

6 Critical Missteps That Hurt Your Career Advancement

Let’s face it: it isn’t easy to break out and establish yourself as ...

4 Characteristics of Leaders Who Get Hired and Promoted

Imagine if you had the opportunity to sit down with a senior executive ...

Nine Qualities of Female Leaders Who Get Beyond the Glass Ceiling

I’m frequently asked to speak about women in law and specifically the issue ...

11 Leadership Lessons Learned

Here are 11 lessons I’ve learned about leadership—mostly from much-admired colleagues, and just ...

5 Things Women Leaders Should Stop Doing. TODAY.

Over the last couple years, I’ve had a front row seat to career ...

9 Traits of Exceptional Leaders

Truly great leaders are hard to come by, but it seems everyone thinks ...

8 Types of Courage for Aspiring Leaders

“The truth is that courage resides within you; you must simply decide to ...

How to Manage Former Peers

Let’s talk about a potentially awkward situation. You get a new role and ...

4 Ways to Improve Your Financial Intelligence
4 Ways to Improve Your Financial Intelligence

Let’s be honest: Most of us who did not start our careers in finance would

Emerging Leader Spotlight: Mindy Seiffert
Emerging Leader Spotlight: Mindy Seiffert

Every month we ask an emerging leader we admire to share what she is doing

Improving Diversity in Hiring
Improving Diversity in Hiring

Caveat: Diversity is more than gender. I’ve used gender in some of these examples because

Leaderly Quote: When you fail, it diminishes your fear
Leaderly Quote: When you fail, it diminishes your fear

You took a big risk… and failed. What now? This is a question I asked

Step Up and Lead
Step Up and Lead

“I was dancing around the daisies. I was not really stepping up to lead.” —

The Top 5 Most-Read Articles This Month
The Top 5 Most-Read Articles This Month

Here’s what other emerging leaders have been reading at BeLeaderly.com this month. Do you like any of

5 Ways to Motivate Yourself (and Everyone Around You)
5 Ways to Motivate Yourself (and Everyone Around You)

To be seen as a leader at work, you’ll need the drive to consistently deliver

Leaderly Quote: Treat every interaction like the most important meeting…
Leaderly Quote: Treat every interaction like the most important meeting…

“Your reputation precedes you,” writes Liz Brenner, who is Vice President of Human Resources Marketing

Public speaking tips for introverts. (Like me.)
Public speaking tips for introverts. (Like me.)

It was just an ordinary Tuesday. I woke up, made a strong pot of coffee,

Emerging Leader Spotlight: Roderick Wilson
Emerging Leader Spotlight: Roderick Wilson

This month we shine the Emerging Leader Spotlight on Roderick Wilson, Senior Vice President Market

Leaderly Quote: Strip away the drama from your leadership style…
Leaderly Quote: Strip away the drama from your leadership style…

Need to have a “tough love” conversation with someone at work? Stay calm, stick to

The Number One Way to Make a Difficult Conversation Easier
The Number One Way to Make a Difficult Conversation Easier

Need to have a difficult conversation with an employee, peer, or supervisor at work? Whether

Leaderly Quote: The best way to become who you’re destined to be…
Leaderly Quote: The best way to become who you’re destined to be…

“The best way to become who you’re destined to be is to accept who you

The Top 5 Most-Read Articles This Month
The Top 5 Most-Read Articles This Month

Here they are! The most-viewed Be Leaderly articles for the past month. 1. 25 Questions

At Be Leaderly, our mission is a simple one: To provide proven career strategies that help you lead, climb, and thrive as a rising woman of influence. If you’re ready to lead, we’re here to support and inspire you.

Subscribe

captcha

PRIVACY

We will never share, rent, or sell your personal information or email address.
Copyright 2017, Be Leaderly