Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](,dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

When he visited the Ontario Science Centre as a kid, Roger Martin was struck by a display of two side-by-side tracks upon which two ball bearings raced down an incline. The dean of the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto says the lesson he learned from that display has stuck with him ever since.

One of the tracks dropped in a straight 45-degree angle, while, the other much-longer track fell quickly at the start and flattened out at the end. "When the ball-bearings were released, darn it if the long track won hands down – again and again," he recalls.

In short, the up-front investment in acceleration for the ball-bearing paid off in vastly superior speed later on. "Same thing holds in careers," he notes: Invest in your career early if you want to advance later.

Story continues below advertisement

As we enter 2013, it's a message he wants to share because it could help you with your career development.

Prof. Martin was one of a varied group of experts who were asked to provide suggestions for Globe and Mail readers on what they can do in the coming year to advance their careers. Here are some other pointers:

Surround yourself with smart people

Many managers get to higher levels of their organization because of their intelligence, their hard work and their ability to plan and implement strategies. But Peggy Cunningham, dean of management at Dalhousie University in Halifax, observes that as you move up in an organization, your responsibility increases, and it becomes tougher to do everything on your own.

"Many people feel defeated when they can no longer succeed through their own efforts. Rather than seeing it as a sign of personal weakness, surround yourself with smart people who have different perspectives and different skills," she says. "Listen to them respectfully and attentively, draw out their ideas, and work to integrate their perspectives into your plans and solutions to problems."

Be your own CEO

Toronto-based success coach Robin Sharma believes an excellent way to rise in your field is to stop blaming others and to start modelling the behaviour you want everyone else at your company to show. You don't have to be at the top of the chain to set a good standard. He argues that the old model of leadership is obsolete, and that anyone can show leadership. They can be, as he puts it, the CEO of their job.

Story continues below advertisement

"Leadership isn't about a title. Real leadership is about getting big things done in the face of challenges, being part of the solution versus the problem, and inspiring everyone around you – even if you're the janitor," he says.

Know yourself

Elaine Sigurdson of Insight to Action career coaching in Toronto stresses that the foundation of success is self-awareness – of your strengths, interests, personality factors and the desires that form the basis of good career choices throughout life. She brushes aside the suggestion that this is familiar and, these days, perhaps trite advice: "Yes, it's well known that self-awareness is key. Still, very few people seem to have much of it. We're so focused on doing, it doesn't appear to be hardwired in most of us to spend as much time reflecting on our internal processes." It's a problem in particular for young people making critical career and educational planning choices with no information about themselves or the world of work, and spending thousands of dollars floundering. She suggests it's an important discipline throughout your career to routinely ask yourself: Does what I am doing really play into what I'm best at or really want to do – or am I being sidetracked by the appeal of the money or the status of the promotion?

Develop – and use – your contact list

When you meet people and they hand you a business card, make sure you actually put it in your contact list, and then keep in contact. "I'm surprised how many people don't do that," says Barbara Kofman, a principal at Career Trails, a Toronto-based career coaching firm. "It's a two-minute process to put them in your e-mail contacts and send a 'glad to meet you' note." Then keep in touch, perhaps quarterly or twice a year for the "hot contacts" who might help you down the road to advance your career.

Write an anti-résumé

Story continues below advertisement

Your résumé probably looks backward at your career. Instead, Mark Franklin, practice leader of the career professionals team at Career Cycles in Toronto, says you need to write a forward-looking statement of your strengths, desires and influences, and what possibilities intrigue you for the future. It should be about a half-page, perhaps in bullet-point format. "You should update it regularly. It helps you to catch clues about the future rather than look through the rear-view mirror as a résumé does," he explains.

Harvey Schachter is a Battersea, Ont.-based writer specializing in management issues. He writes Monday Morning Manager and management book reviews for the print edition of Report on Business and an online work-life column Balance. E-mail Harvey Schachter

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow the author of this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies