In order to be a high-functioning professional in your firm, you must demonstrate both technical and professional capabilities. Those are two sides of the same coin. Early in your career, technical mastery is predominant. But as you progress in your career, your professional capabilities are more necessary.
Your technical competence is so much easier to define and fix. You demonstrate your competence in your work. It can be evaluated with a fair amount of objectivity and confidence by others.
Not so much with your professional development. It’s harder to determine what exactly is lacking. No one wants to judge you unfairly because the professional areas are more personal-style related. It’s easier to say, “You’re just not there yet.”
Your leaders struggle with putting your professional development into words. In fact, it’s usually a combination of these:
• The don’t know what it is. It’s hard to define and describe.
• They don’t know how to fix it. Even if they can describe it, they don’t know what to do about it.
• Don’t know how to say it. If they can describe it, it’s often so personal that it’s an uncomfortable discussion to have with you.
It’s when you are frazzled that you don’t show well. You can be stressed by the volume of work before you, the complexity of the engagement, a looming deadline or when you lack confidence to perform and achieve. Couple those things with the additional frustrations of people not responding, under-performing or not pulling their weight, and you can downgrade yourself to resemble a train wreck. Not pretty. And certainly not worthy of high performance.
Many of your struggles in your career are related to your personal and interpersonal capabilities—how you manage yourself and how you influence others. Be sure to get good feedback on your professional development and ask for examples of situations where you could handle things differently. Balance your technical AND your professional development.