by Laura Morgan Roberts and Anthony J. Mayo

The middle part of your career is important for expanding your expertise beyond your areas of specialization and gaining visibility to assume leadership roles. We hope that you have already experienced some success as an individual contributor and can shift your attention from yourself to your expanding leadership capabilities. During this stage, you may question the “why” (your purpose and desired impact), the “what” (your cultural, value, and skill-based fit), and the “how” (your tactics) for leadership development and advancement. Here are some affirmations that can help.

In the middle stage of my career, I am positioned to grow into greater leadership roles.

  • I recognize that as my core strengths and talents increase, I can be a stronger contributor in my organization. I draw on these attributes to position myself for increased responsibility and greater visibility and impact.
  • I proactively cultivate vibrant networks — both existing and new — in which my peers and mentors support my growth. I know I can’t necessarily rely on existing networks to provide me with everything I need to grow and develop; too often, marginalized people are excluded from these places. While I do participate in existing networks if possible, I also construct my own spaces where I can draw support while I learn and grow.
  • Sometimes, even when I am in a position of authority, my authority is challenged or contested. I choose to not let this make me feel less secure in my leadership. I learn from feedback and others’ perceptions, but I do not let them limit my leadership potential.
  • When the path forward isn’t obvious, I carve my own path. I have deep ingenuity and know I am capable of building inclusive and high-performing organizations in which I can flourish.
  • At times I question whether I have to choose between my career success and my authentic self. I want to be able to wear my hair and clothes in a manner that I feel is professionally authentic, discuss my personal interests and commitments with my colleagues and supervisors, and honor my unique background and experiences. For the sake of my health, I make choices that promote my ability to be authentic at work — whether that is expressing myself through my appearance or my language — and I am accountable for those decisions. This is the paradox of authenticity. I embrace this with courage.