Some Harsh Truths About Going up the Career Ladder

glass ceiling

The career ladder is one of those all-important mountains we think we need to conquer in order to achieve success. When we are looking to move up the career ladder, we may think that it is a journey with one direction well-traveled by our predecessors. But when we are looking to become a leader and hit the top of the ladder, we must remember that the career ladder is not necessarily what we think it is. What are the harsh truths about working your way up the career ladder? 

It Is About Soft and Hard Skills 

One of the biggest misconceptions about climbing up the career ladder is that we think in order to make it to the next rung that we just need to acquire the relevant skills. When we are working in an area like marketing, we may believe that we need to acquire all the relevant skills and know-how to apply them in a work environment in order to progress to the next stage. But when we take a step back, the reality is that it’s not just about skills in a general sense. These so-called “hard” skills look right on a resume, but if you really want to go to the next level, you’ve got to show a comprehensive set of skills, which includes soft skills.

This means that in order to actually make it to the next rung of the ladder, we need to evoke certain attributes but also have the knowledge to back it up. Many people believe that to progress, they’ve got to undergo a variety of extracurricular courses. And for all of the project management courses and soft skills courses we can undergo, the reality is that we need to show how we demonstrate our knowledge. 

It Gets Harder With Every Step Up 

When you look to get promoted, there are positives to going up the career ladder. For example, you will get paid more, and you will have more accomplishments to add to your portfolio, but the further up the ladder you go, the more work you will get. When we are young and green, and on the lookout for a great high-powered job, or we are looking to make our own business, we only think about the glamorized aspects of it. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with getting paid more, the number of meetings and tasks will creep up.

This means your workday will become longer, and the amount of time you have to get the work done shrinks dramatically. This means you will come in early or stay late. And if you are determined to make your way up the career ladder, you have to learn how to manage your time more effectively. 

All Eyes Will Be on You 

When you are making a transition from the bottom rung to the next one, your immediate contemporaries will curse you for getting promoted when you make your transition to the next stage, but there will be a whole new group of people watching your every move. Gone are the days of being more carefree. You may have thought that when watching leaders from the bottom, you would “do things differently if I were in charge,” and work at making employees more inclusive, but you might be surprised as to how many times you will have to give in to age-old office politics. You will gain more notoriety and visibility.

This means you’ve got to watch what you say. And when you are starting to think about everything that you say, but also in the way that you say it, there is a lot more pressure at stake. This is why you have to remember where you come from. You see people coming across as condescending to their second in command, and you may think that you wouldn’t do it like that, but the reality is that when you are progressing up the career ladder, there’s a lot more to think about. Everything comes with an added weight, including your words. 

Is This What You Want? 

When you finally hit the top of your career ladder, and you achieved everything that you wanted, now might be the time you become more introspective. The closer you get to the glass ceiling, the more you may realize that it’s not worth it. But this is where you have to do some solid soul-searching. You may wonder if you are going to be content at the top of the ladder. Will you have to wait it out as a second in command until the manager retires? Or is it time to move somewhere else?

When you start to define your own career path, you might be surprised at what you really want. This is why it’s important that, when you are starting out in your career, that you truly define what you want to achieve. Many managers start out because they want to be in charge and they want the lifestyle. You have to ask yourself if you are going to be content where you are, but also if you will be content at the top. And the best way to address this is to be honest with yourself.

Be a Better Leader

Moving upwards can help you gain more clarity. You may think that when you are at the bottom, that it’s about a certain salary and being in charge, but the reality is if you want to be a better leader, you may realize it’s not to do with flash cars and a certain paycheck. These are all things that come as part of the territory, but the reality is far different. There will be late nights, early mornings, and you may miss a lot of things in life. But if you truly have a passion for what you are doing, this will have a positive impact on your quality of life. This is why people who are at the top of their game never want to leave their roles. Someone like Warren Buffett is a fantastic example because he is passionate about what he does. 

If you think working your way up the career ladder is about getting into a certain industry to carve a niche out for yourself, when you get to the top, you might be surprised how unfulfilling it is.