The #1 way smart people sabotage their careers

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 I work with clients who are at the seeming height of their career success, running hundred million dollar companies. I also work with clients who are struggling to reach the successes they desire, feeling trapped and stuck as they look for the right move.

Surprisingly, both these groups have one thing in common: they are some of the smartest people in the room.

You see, nearly all my clients are highly analytical, technical and intellectual. One of them informed me, quite casually, that he is one of maybe seven people in the world who can decrypt code at the level that he is capable of. He is a genius in the world of cyber security, yet he doesn’t feel his career reflects that. He works for a massive organization that has capped his growth potential.

I recently met with a client, a young engineer who was awarded a leadership role at her firm. While she has expressed a vast and impressive skill set that spans engineering, management and architecture she is overlooked for promotions and undermined by her directors.

Having worked with incredibly cerebral people at varying levels of success and professional development, I’ve learned that the operating system of highly intelligent people (how they see and react to their environment) can sometimes work against their career trajectory as well as their own personal happiness.

Here’s what I’ve found: at some level, smart people think they are above the need for cultivating human relationships. They think they will get ahead because they are smart and hard-working. They abide by the old myth that their work will speak for itself. They don’t want to bother with relationships because they are messy, illogical and frustrating.

Why this is an issue: In a corporate environment where there is hierarchical pecking order, promotions are often more about politics than skill. How many times has a smart and hard-working person been passed over for a promotion that was then given to the gregarious ex-lacrosse player from Duke?

Many highly intelligent people have honed their skills with an eye toward mastering their work and, as a result, their ability to understand and facilitate healthy social relationships has atrophied. These relationships are essential for building a professional reputation that gets you to the boardroom.

It’s no surprise, then, that much of the work I do with my clients is about cultivating the elusive yet essential skill of strong emotional intelligence and thus becoming an embodied leader who can not only educate others but also inspire.

When intellect is coupled with a strong presence and willingness to build close relationships, it’s both a winning combination and an undeniably powerful one.

2017-04-11T11:01:06+00:00 May 15th, 2016|

About the Author:

Anna is unrelenting in her search for truth and wisdom. She believes that all experiences in life move us toward our greatest strength and happiness. She is committed to living fully and enjoying the heck out of every experience and every person. She loves coffee, crystals and Fast Company.

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