To the Victor Go the Spoils-Career Lessons from the 2016 Election

In the coming months, I plan to return to more active blogging.  The Election of 2016 has inspired me to put more energy into sharing my career and recruiting advice. But don’t worry.  I will reserve my more partisan opinions for my Facebook friends.

We can all learn a lot about our own careers by watching the smart moves (and missteps) of those who are in the public eye.  This year, surrogates for both campaigns have given us a lot of food for thought.

One thought that came to me over the weekend is the importance of “hitching your wagon to the right horse”.  Clearly, Trump’s most vocal supporters (e.g. Rudy Giuliani, Newt Gingrich, Stephen Bannon, Chris Christie, etc.) will benefit a lot having supported the winner.

We should all take heed that our careers can rise or fall depending on who we choose to “follow”.

For associates in a professional services firm, for example, the path to partnership can be paved by a partner with a strong and growing practice.  If that partner becomes your ally, your chances of elevation to partnership can grow significantly.

Similarly, spend most of your time working for a partner who is disliked, not respected or whose practice is not growing, and you may find yourself out of a job when it is time for the partnership decision.

Of course as Election 2016 has clearly demonstrated, “picking the winning horse” is not so easy.  Even if you think you have aligned yourself with winners in your firm, their fortunes may change unexpectedly and so too will yours.

Furthermore, while in our democracy, everyone gets to decide which candidate he or she will support, many of us often don’t have the chance to choose our superiors in the workplace.

So even if you are getting good work (working for the types of clients you like), at some point, you may want to think about making a job move.  It is important to get good work experience in an industry that interests you; but having the “right” experience may not be enough if you want  your career to advance.

I’m not suggesting that professionals should blindly follow successful partners in their firm.  Try to choose “winners”; but be sure that the winners you choose share your values.  If you don’t, then you may end up a winner in the short run, but feeling a profound lack of career satisfaction in the long fun.