Recently, several of my age 40-something and age 50-something clients have mentioned that they:

  • Are not feeling as challenged in their leadership role as they were a few years ago
  • Feel like their upward Career Trajectory is slowing or on a downturn
  • Feel like a too large fish in a too small pond
  • Are being asked to use only a portion of their expertise in their current role and politically they can’t do an end run around the boss
  • Are considering moving to a new organization – but they find that roles are not as plentiful as they were before the double-dip (triple-dip?) recession

I can remember when I first started coaching executives in transition, I was pretty adamant in stating ‘if you think age is a roadblock in finding your next role – it is’!

I had all the right words and the right justifications.  That was twelve years ago.

Now that I am wiser – I do notice the challenges that middle level managers/directors; division leaders, department heads and executives have in managing their careers.

Leadership careers, in most respects, emulate the ebb and flow of the typical phases of a Business Maturity S Curve Model.  Similarly, the Career S Curve model includes: the Start-up, Launch, High Growth, Maturity and if we’re not very careful – Decline phases.

Following the Career S Curve model, the average leader’s career started after receiving an undergraduate degree and accepting that first entry level professional role.  The leader was probably identified as a “keeper”; he/she received mentoring, development, challenging and broadening assignments and was then promoted to a leadership role.

During the Career Start-up, Launch and High Growth phases, the leader’s Career Trajectory showed a marked upward trend.  Following these early years, the leader experienced many successes – some failures – but always made major contributions and received accolades from senior management.  Also during this time, the leader may have gone back to school and participated in an Executive MBA program, received a different advanced degree, law degree or made a significant contribution or innovation that was recognized within the industry.

Then came those Maturity phase years where promotions were less frequent but still achievable. Maybe at this point, the leader made a wrong career decision that cost him or her – maybe there was a misstep, a side step or a step back due to a lay-off. Unchecked, this career downward movement will inevitably lead to the Career Decline phase.

So what can a leader do before career growth opportunities begin to ebb? To convert   negative career growth to a new upward career trajectory: 

In the Career Start-up and Launch Phases

  1. Acknowledge and plan for the fact that your career trajectory will probably slow down.  This means, while you are building your primary career, you also need to execute plans to design additional revenue streams.
  2. Build your Career Brand and your Personal Brand.  Become a leader and an influencer in your industry.  Write articles, whitepapers, volunteer to speak at conferences, go to your alma mater and volunteer to speak, find a platform and work it!

In the Growth and Maturity Phases

  1. Initiate an effective Reputation Enhancement Strategy. Who knows you and your competencies; who do you know?  Meet and get to know key influencers.
  2. Make strategic career moves, carefully craft your onboarding into new roles and when you leave a company – ‘exit like a rock star’.
  3. Always think ahead, plan ahead and get started now on a 5-Year Career Transformation Plan.
  4. At least annually, reassess your career satisfaction and your career progress and take action before you begin to experience a career decline.


A question for you to consider:

  • Where are you (what phase) on the Career S Curve Model?

© All rights reserved.

Christine M. Glasco consults to company executives, business owners and non-profit leaders on career management/career transformation strategies and strategic leadership development solutions. To provide you with clarity on how to achieve the next steps in your career, go to and request a complimentary copy of Is Your Career on Track? Assessment and e-Workbook

Email: Phone: 1.940.367.0837

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