Congratulations. You've achieved career success. But it isn't enough. Our communities and global causes need your talent to make positive changes in our world by tackling big societal problems.
If, increasingly, community or global causes should appeal to your sense of purpose, and should you want to use your talent to do more about them, know that you are not alone.
At every life stage, there is growing concern about making positive change in the world by tackling big societal problems. There are lots of issues that remain difficult to solve because they are complex, ambiguous, cut across disciplines and industries, and require innovation.
Accomplished professionals bring a great many strengths to this problem-solving. But there's a big paradox. Their success often handicaps the people most qualified to take on these challenges.
To be effective and make a difference in the world, leaders must get past six barriers that stem from their own success:
1) You think you know it all and aren't used to saying, "I don't know."
2) You're not accustomed to being challenged.
3) You expect to have an army of helpers.
4) Your frames of reference are narrow because you have one primary area of expertise.
5) You've grown impatient for results.
6) You're married to your career identity.
Working on big societal problems calls on leadership skills beyond what most people exercise in their careers and companies. Let's call this "advanced" leadership — the ability to find fresh ideas, persuade people you don't control, and work across sectors and organizations to build coalitions. This kind of leadership requires moving beyond what you already know, looking more broadly, listening to more voices, and examining problems from many points of view.
Get over the success traps by thinking outside the building.