The idea of climbing the corporate ladder is deeply ingrained in our minds. We dream of promotions, big titles and the corner office.

But sometimes, a sideways move can be just as beneficial, if not more so, than a climb up the ladder.

The allure of the big title

Let’s face it. Titles matter. They are a status symbol, a sign of success. When you introduce yourself at a party or a networking event, saying “I’m the Director of XYZ” feels good. It commands respect. It shows you’ve made it. But titles don’t tell the whole story. They don’t always come with the satisfaction, growth or balance that we crave.

The real deal with sideways moves

A sideways move or lateral move, means taking on a new role at the same level as your current position. No promotion. No fancy new title. Just a different set of responsibilities and opportunities. At first glance, this might seem like a step back. But let’s dig deeper.

Why sideways might be your best move

  1. Skill developmentSideways moves often mean learning new skills. You might move from marketing to project management or from sales to operations. This broadens your expertise. It makes you more versatile and valuable to any employer.
  2. Broader perspectiveExperiencing different departments or roles gives you a broader understanding of the business. You see how different pieces fit together. This can be incredibly valuable, especially if you aspire to be in leadership one day.
  3. Networking opportunitiesA new role means new colleagues, new mentors and new connections. Expanding your network can open doors you never knew existed. It’s not just about who you know, but who knows you.
  4. Personal growthSometimes, staying in the same role can lead to burnout or boredom. A new challenge can reignite your passion. It can bring a fresh sense of purpose and excitement to your career.
  5. Better work-life balanceHigher titles often come with more responsibilities and longer hours. A lateral move might offer a better balance, giving you more time for personal pursuits and family.

A thought from Dame Carolyn McCall

Dame Carolyn McCall, CEO of ITV, once said,

“A career path is rarely a straight line. Be open to opportunities that come your way, even if they seem sideways.”

Her career journey through various industries and roles exemplifies this wisdom.

Takeaway

Choosing a sideways job over a higher title isn’t about settling. It’s about strategic growth. It’s about broadening your skills, expanding your network and finding balance. Titles are nice, but they aren’t everything. Your career is a marathon, not a sprint. Taking a lateral move can be a smart way to ensure you’re growing, learning and staying engaged. So next time a sideways opportunity comes your way, don’t dismiss it. It might just be the best move you ever make.

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