Want to Scale Your Career Mountaintop? Shatter Your Functional Stereo-Type

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Every function has its role in business.  Every function also has its “knocks or biases.”  Stereo-types if you will.

Have you heard of any of these sentiments?

  • Accountants are bean counters, but they really don’t have a clue about customers, internal or external.
  • Sales people are great with people, sure!  But they don’t get the bottom line and only think about the customer.
  • Marketing people are dreamers, but they can’t analyze themselves out of a paper bag!
  • IT thinks they are the gestapo!  Do they realize they are a support function, not a deli counter giving out a ticket?
  • Operations– No, they really won’t just “buy what we make,” there needs to be some kind of customization!
  • Senior management is so out of touch!  They really don’t know how the real work is done!
  • HR – Hiring.  Firing.  Party’s over!  HR is coming to the meeting?  Yikes!

Want a recipe for career success?

Find a way to shatter your functional stereo-type.

YES, be great at what you do.  That’s a given.

But if you want more  than just being an “accountant,” break the mold in what it means to be a great.

  • Do you know how to close the books as an accountant?  I sure hope so.  Can you pay your vendors and collect your invoices?  That’s like breathing.

You in sales?

  • Can you line up a big meeting to present your annual offering?  Of course, that’s why your in sales.  Can you form relationships with various types of personalities?  Like breathing.

You in IT?

Can you build a program to automate routine tasks?  Set up networks, hardware, software?  Well I hope so, it’s like breathing.

To be a “basic valued” employee, you better know how to breathe in your function.  Some people breathe easier than others, sure.  There are people that run marathons faster (and finish) better than others.  They flat out work harder at their craft than others.  Hustle is a choice.  

But it takes more than hard work to transcend the middle of the functional bell curve.


I would argue that any person that aspires to rise the ranks and become one of the best at what you do…….need to flat out work their ass off to “breathe” better than those around you.  But you’ll need an edge…..

Standing out and rising to the top of any one function (or beyond) requires not just breathing.  You’ll need to stand out from the rest.  Not just by being the best, but by breaking the mold and shattering what it looks like to be the best at what you do.  Shatter your functional stereo-type.  

Take the perception by the collar, lift it up and throw it back in the career stereo type pile.  Don’t be that guy/gal.  Be the anti-stereo type.

Think Superman.  He turned the tables, in his greatest moment ever.

And a CAUTIONARY NOTE:  Before tackling any ambitious project, it helps to get a baseline for where you are at.  In this context, have you mastered “Breathing?”  What do your peers think?  If not, start their.  

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  1. Scott McQuown says:

    Hope you, Kim and the kids are well up in your home state. I hadn’t realized that you had time to be such a prolific blogger.

    Ah, tickets. I’ve had a love/hate relationship with these things, even though I’ve only had to use them a couple of times. There are instances, depending on speed, complexity and ease of use of the system, when it takes more time to enter a support request and to review/prioritize than it does to actually complete the request. Of course, there is a cost to doing that. Someone is happy and someone else; not so much. Like website search ranking: everyone wants to be FIRST. But, as was stated in the “Highlander” movie:

    “There can be only one.”

    In smaller organizations, doing support freestyle can be the best way. It is personal and informal and allows for some relationship building. As an organization grows (and often times where IT does not), support requests as well as other larger projects quickly multiply, at times it seems exponentially. Without something to act like a regulator, breathing becomes panting, then gasping and finally a lung collapses. (See how cleverly I worked that in?) Even for Superman there is a point when there is just too much Kryptonite in the room to do the amazing switch-a-roo without some kind of help.

    • Great to hear from you Scott! Great thoughts and YES, the ticket system is probably one of those necessary evils when IT departments hit the growth phase. You are correct, all the users not only want to be first, they usually also think they are the most IMPORTANT! Like you said, that’s a healthy dose of Kryptonite for an understaffed support function. Regulators need to start at the highest levels in a company, determining the critical few priorities that really make a difference, then everything trickles down to all functions. As you know, many companies struggle with deciding what NOT to do, sign up for a laundry list and there are only 24 hours in a day for sometimes fixed resources! While I don’t consider myself “prolific” in blogging (but thank you!) it has certainly been fun picking a few of these topics, and even more fun when smart people like you participate. Thank you!

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