Do You Possess Career Agility?

On January 11, 2012, in Blog, Leadership Career Success, by Christine Glasco

A major portion of the executive coaching work I engage in with clients is around shepherding them through career transition.  For the past few months, I have been observing an unusual trend in client needs.   Even though the US is in the middle of a recession economy, a large percentage of my clients are voluntarily considering a career change versus seeking my services due to a termination or downsizing.

After coaching a large number of leaders through transition over the last 20+ years, I can very accurately predict those individuals who will quickly embrace and move through transition successfully and those who will struggle and come out the other side – worse off than before.  The individuals who are extremely successful as a result of a voluntary or involuntary transition seem to possess something I call Career Agility. 

Agility has been defined as: “acting with purpose and flexibility, collaborating with disparate stakeholders, developing creative solutions to complex problems, continually learning and changing.”

I define Career Agility as:

“The ability to experience success and satisfaction while traversing new, changing and ambiguous position (job) or career changes that allows the individual to achieve specific goals and leads to a fully actionable longer-term career optimization plan.”

Another way to understand this phenomenon is:

“Career Agility ultimately describes the leader’s flexibility in identifying creative alternatives to achieving unrealized career objectives and career goals and ‘landing’ in a more positive role than previously experienced –- resulting in new compensation/revenue streams, greater alignment (suitability/fit), the opportunity to develop new competencies and to try new roles, a chance to realize a lifelong dream, etc.”

Leaders who orchestrate the most successful transitions seem to have a success mindset coupled with a number of ‘positioning’ behaviors that tend to act as accelerators to career transition or career transformation.  Although the accelerators ‘look’ a little different in each person, they have an uncanny way of attracting supporters and unparalleled and unanticipated opportunities.

I think it important to note that the Career Agility Accelerators also have long-term impact on the leader’s career success.

Do you possess career agility?

Dan McCarthy is the Director of Executive Development Programs at the Whittemore School of Business and Economics.  He relates the story of a high level executive who said: “I refuse to have career discussions with people who come to me looking for advice on how to become an executive. To me, the more important question they should be asking themselves is “what is it I want to learn?”

I am currently coaching several leaders who are voluntarily seeking to transform their careers.  They have each decided, for a number of personal reasons – to do something different.   From early indications, each of these leaders possesses some or all of the Career Agility Accelerators. I have asked them to focus on what they want to learn.  I predict that they will all be successful in transforming their careers!

Questions for you to ask prior to experiencing involuntary job loss or deciding to make a career change:

  • Do I possess career agility?
  • What do I need to learn to be successful in career transition or career change?

Note: Do You Possess Career Agility is the first in a series of articles on the concept of agility.  Future articles will focus on learning agility, leadership agility and actual case studies.


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Christine M. Glasco consults to company executives, business owners and non-profit leaders on career management/career transformation and strategic leadership development solutions.  To request a complimentary copy of Five Tips to Transform Your Executive Career  and to receive Is Your Career on Track? Assessment and e-Workbook  go to:   Email:

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