Friday, April 5, 2013

Find the Best Boss to Advance Your Career

In the concluding chapter of Sports Marketing, a panel of sports industry veterans who contributed to development of the textbook were asked questions about career planning and management. The questions came from undergraduate sports marketing students, and the experts gave candid, insightful advice. Students had the luxury of tapping the wisdom of experts including:
The feedback shared by the industry experts gives students the benefit of years of working side-by-side with clients, colleagues, and of course, aspiring sports business professionals. Of all the advice given by the panel, I believe the most memorable thought came from Kathy Carter, president of Soccer United Marketing.  She was asked the following question:

Which would you recommend to someone starting out—look for a job you want or take any job you can find?

Carter's response fits whether the industry is sports, retailing, financial management... you name it:

 "I would look for the very best boss. Find someone who will take an interest in you and in your ability to learn and experience the business. Working with, or for, someone who challenges you to be better, supports your growth, and celebrates your achievements is far more important than the logo or the title on your card."

Finding the very best boss is a criterion that many early career professionals will likely overlook. Other criteria tend to rise to the top of their concerns including advancement opportunities, culture, and of course, compensation. But, if you have been in your career for a while you can appreciate the value of Carter's advice. Bosses come in all stripes- supportive, aloof, egotistical, indifferent, and downright bad- just to name a few.

The right boss has obvious value in terms of mentoring and shaping a person at a pivotal career stage, but how can you gauge whether a boss will help you develop your abilities? One indicator is to look at the paths taken by people who have worked under a particular boss. Are they moving into positions of greater responsibility over time, or are they stagnant in the organization? Or, if they are moving up by moving to other organizations, are they leaving because of lack of opportunities or lack of mentoring?

Another way to seek what you are looking for in a boss is to consider the mentors that have influenced you. What traits or leadership styles of these people had the most impact on you? If you recognize how bosses, teachers, and other mentors have contributed to your development to this point you can more confidently assess how a prospective boss might help you in the early stages of your sports business career.

Look for the very best boss- you don't know if you will find him or her but one thing is certain: You cannot get where you want to go all by yourself. Your superiors will play a role in determining whether you go on to have a long, prosperous career or if you just go on.