Why Your Past Workplace Successes May Be Holding You Back—What Got You Here Won’t Get You There

Mar 31, 2023

“What got you here, will not get you there” is often used in the corporate environment to remind employees that the skills, habits, and attitudes that helped them succeed in their current position may not be enough to help them advance to the next level.

This saying suggests that you need to continually adapt and grow to be successful in your career because what led to your past success may not be enough to continue progressing towards your future goals. While this may be a challenging concept to embrace, it is essential to recognize that change is necessary for growth and development.

I will explore this saying in more detail and look at how it applies to the corporate environment.

What does “What got you here, will not get you there” really mean?

This saying is attributed to business coach Marshall Goldsmith. It refers to the qualities, behaviors, and habits that led to an individual’s current success may not be enough to achieve success at the next level.

For individuals who have been promoted based on their past performance, the idea of changing what worked for them may sound counterintuitive. After all, if their previous approach was successful enough to warrant a promotion, why should they consider altering their strategies or behaviors?

For example, a highly skilled software engineer may have been promoted to a team leader position due to their technical expertise. However, to be successful as a manager, they will need to develop new skills such as leadership, communication, and delegation.

Similarly, a sales representative who is successful in selling to individual customers may struggle to sell to large corporations when promoted to a sales manager position. They will need to learn new skills such as networking, relationship building, and negotiation to succeed in this new role.

It is important to realize that the skills and habits that led to success in one role may not necessarily translate to the next level. As you move up in your career, you will encounter new challenges and responsibilities that require you to adapt and develop new skill sets.

An employee who excels in an individual contributor role may struggle when promoted to a management position that requires them to lead and motivate a team. In this case, the skills that made them a successful individual contributor, such as attention to detail and strong analytical skills, may not be enough to succeed as a manager. Instead, they may need to focus on developing skills such as communication, delegation, and leadership.

Similarly, individuals who have achieved success through hard work and long hours may need to adjust their approach as they progress in their careers. As they take on more responsibility, they may find that working longer hours or pushing themselves harder is no longer sustainable or effective. Instead, they may need to learn to delegate more effectively, prioritize their time, and focus on strategic thinking and decision-making.

Ultimately, the key to continued success is a willingness to embrace change and adapt to new challenges. While it may be tempting to stick with what has worked in the past, individuals who are open to learning and growth are more likely to achieve long-term success and fulfillment in their careers.

Why is this saying important in the corporate environment?

The corporate environment is constantly changing, with new technologies, processes, and challenges emerging all the time. To be successful in this environment, you must be adaptable and willing to learn new skills.

Additionally, as you move up the corporate ladder, you will be faced with new challenges and responsibilities. You will need to develop new skills, behaviors, and attitudes to succeed at each new level.

The corporate environment is highly competitive, with many individuals vying for the same positions. Those who are willing to continually learn and grow will have a better chance of success than those who rely solely on their current skills and abilities.

How can you apply this saying in your career?

To apply this saying in your career, you should focus on developing new skills and behaviors that will help you succeed at the next level. This may involve seeking out new challenges, taking on new responsibilities, and learning from mentors and colleagues.

Some specific strategies that you can use to apply this saying in your career include:

1. Seeking out feedback. Seek out feedback from your managers, colleagues, and other stakeholders to identify areas for improvement. This feedback will help you identify the skills and behaviors you need to develop to succeed at the next level.

2. Building a network. build a network of mentors, colleagues, and other professionals who can provide guidance and support as you develop new skills and behaviors.

3. Taking on new challenges. Seek out new challenges and responsibilities that will help you develop new skills and behaviors. This may involve taking on new projects, volunteering for leadership roles, or seeking out training opportunities.

4. Continuing education. Identify opportunities to learn and grow. This may involve taking courses, attending conferences, or reading books and articles on relevant topics.

In conclusion, the saying “What got you here, will not get you there” is a reminder that we must continually adapt and learn to succeed in our careers. In the corporate environment, where change is constant and competition is fierce, those who are willing to develop new skills and behaviors will have a better chance of success. By seeking out feedback, building a network, taking on new challenges, and continuing their education, you can apply this saying in their careers and achieve their professional goals.

Written by Izabela Kramarz

With her 25+ year career in the corporate financial landscape, Izabela understands the intricacies of driving strategic transformations in people, processes, and perspectives.

Her posts are inspired by the work she does as a leader and coach with her clients and from her extensive experience in the workplace.



You might also like….

Transformentum Logo Graphic

© 2024 | TransforMentum Consulting & Coaching