The 5 Types of People You Need to Achieve Work Goals

This is an adapted excerpt from the book “The Gifted Journey: Five Transformative Steps to Uncovering Your Unique Path” by Stephanie Moore, a strengths and leadership development coach. Moore experienced firsthand how colleagues and managers can either help or plateau your professional trajectory. This excerpt offers strategies pulled from the book on how to assemble career influencers to propel you forward. 

My first job out of college was working for a phone company selling residential phones.  My first week on the job was spent in sales training. I’ll never forget the instructor. She walked into the room wearing a bright red suit, and not only did she make a statement with her clothing, she also had the teaching style to match. She was vibrant, funny, smart, and engaging. It was apparent that she was passionate about the subject matter and spoke from years of experience. She obviously loved what she was doing.

I watched in fascination while she led us through that week — engaging us and holding our attention — and I realized that I was intrigued about this type of work. In fact, I was moved to find out more about this possible career path.

After the training, I asked my manager for advice about finding a career in training. Her response was less than encouraging. It went something like this: “You don’t want to do that kind of work. I’ve done it and it’s really tough. You have to travel all the time and it’s exhausting. Besides, you don’t even have the experience or education to do that sort of work. You’re better off doing what you are doing.” And with that, she shot me a look that said, “Now get back to work!”

Good intentions, bad results

Have you ever had your hopes and dreams shut down inadvertently by some well-meaning person?

Illustration of diverse coworkers discussing work. Achieve Work Goals pbs rewire
The wrong people can misdirect your path, but the right people can be a bridge to your future.

When there are outside influences directing our path, it can feel like we’re “oozing” from role to role, or decision to decision. This lack of direction and control over our destiny can make us feel as though we never truly own our own lives. I’ve coached many individuals who felt like they had “settled” in their lives, and they can now appreciate how all the past advice, as well-meaning as it was, had led them there.

Finding the best in yourself

Fortunately for me, my second manager was a true developmental manager.  During my first one-on-one, get-acquainted meeting with my new manager, she asked me what I could see myself doing in the future. I remember feeling hesitant and somewhat vulnerable. Should I share my deep-seated desire to move from sales to training? How would she receive this information? The mere fact that she asked me this question at all led me to trust her just enough to share that I wanted to pursue a career in the training field.

When she asked why, I shared my story about the woman in the bright red suit. My manager pondered that for a moment while I held my breath. And then she said, “Then I guess we need to get you in front of people as often as possible. Have you ever thought of being an ambassador for the company?” She explained that an ambassador represented the company at trade shows, conferences and at annual meetings, all of which would require making brief presentations.

As she was explaining the role, I felt in that moment a sensation of true joy, as if that seed (which had been lying dormant) was now taking root and starting to grow. For the next couple of years, I was an ambassador for the company. I made presentations, learned to use PowerPoint, and how to speak to small and sometimes very large crowds. In 1986 this same manager was promoted to a training role at the company headquarters, and within a month she brought me with her and I ended up in my very first “official” training role. As I’ve told many groups since then, I owe my career to this woman!

Bringing people with you

It was because of these two experiences that I realized the impact that others can have on our journey.  My first manager thought she knew what was best for me, and my second manager wanted to bring out the best in me.

The right people are critical to your journey. The wrong people can misdirect your path, but the right people can be a bridge to your future. Over the years I have learned that the Gifted Journey process is difficult to do on your own and in a vacuum. We need trusted individuals who are willing to go on this journey with us.

Here are five key strategies for finding the people to help you achieve your goals:

  1. Build your own personal board of directors: Think of yourself as your own company. Every successful company has a board of directors whose primary function is to  guide and give advice. Having your own personal board can be invaluable as you look for advice and guidance in your career. Your board should consist of somewhere between five and seven people who you know and trust and have shown an interest in you and your career. This could be current and past managers, teachers or professors, mentors, colleagues, friends, partners and coaches.
  2. Seek out a great coach: A great coach can be there to help surface your goals and objectives. They can also offer outside perspective and add an element of ownership and accountability. A coach can help you to reflect on your possible paths and help you set up realistic goals and encourage you to think beyond what might not seem possible.
  3. Identify a mentor: A mentor can be anyone with a level of expertise that you want to acquire and can be a great way to expand your network and get real-time information developing your skills and knowhow. A great mentor is someone you trust and is a good listener. They should also be someone who knows that a great mentor-mentee relationship is a two-way street. Many great mentors say they learn as much from this relationship as the mentee.
  4. Work for a developmental manager: Managers can either make or break a job. How do you know if you are going to have a great boss? One strategy is to ask your potential manager what they enjoy most about their role as a manager. Listen for responses that include developing their people.
  5. Expand your network: Make it a practice to set up a coffee or lunch date with someone you would like to get to know. It could be someone with an area of expertise in which you are interested. Be a great listener and be sincere. Follow up with a thank you note and, if possible, attach a related article or item of interest to them.

I encourage you to see every person you encounter as a potential bridge upon your path. And just like bridges that span ravines and rivers, these folks can connect you with destinations that would otherwise seem out of reach. Many times the right people can be immensely valuable bridges to other people, information, resources and opportunities.

Stephanie Moore

Stephanie Moore is an author and Gallup-certified strengths coach with more than two decades of experience in leadership development, career consulting and executive coaching. As a strengths-based practitioner, she has used her unique blend of expertise, passion and spirituality to help thousands of people discover more fulfilling and rewarding career paths.