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Image Ever faced situations you wished you had handled better? Getting ahead in your career depends a lot on skills, knowledge and talent. But your ability to handle difficult situations maturely can build your reputation and help develop enduring professional relationships that serve you well long term.

Here is my list of typical pitfalls and some suggestions on how to handle them.

How you lead: Leadership these days is not just what the boss does. It's for everyone. It's an attitude, a behavior, even a state of mind. Choosing to lead isn't about usurping other people's authority or overstepping the mark. It's taking responsibility for results.

Your effect on people: Know your personal style and its impact. Putting out your best self earns goodwill. Treat people with respect and give them room to be themselves. Choose to trust people; not everything has to have your fingerprints all over it.

How you compete: Learning to compete constructively is a good skill; wanting to win all the time can be counterproductive and lead you into taking credit that is due others. Pursue your ambition sensibly and don't act like you want everyone else to fade away.

Handling disagreement: Let's face it, you're never going to see eye to eye all the time with everyone. How you handle disagreements has an impact on how you are viewed. In disagreement remain calm, professional and solution-oriented. Be assertive but polite and keep your ego out of it.

Receiving feedback: Positive feedback is great. Critical feedback…ouch. Try not to reject negative feedback out of hand. If the delivery is done rudely, respectfully say so. Mine even seemingly negative feedback for lessons to guide your journey of growth.

Handling disappointment: Lost out on that promotion, cheated out of your 15 minutes of fame? Disappointments come and when they do don't throw tantrums or act the victim. Take a long term view and don't let your reaction to single events undermine your future. Commit to excellence and worthy opportunities will come round.

Your attitude to change: Change is tough and inevitable but can stretch us positively. Diminish your unwillingness to change. When you see it coming, prepare to receive it and become a shaper rather than a resistor. You can only influence the game if you play.

Managing a difficult boss: Sometime in your career you'll work with a difficult boss. Be sure you are not seeing them as difficult because they're asking more of you than you are prepared to give. Choose to respect your boss and his authority over you

Now take action! Which immature behaviors and habits are undermining your career?

Vera is a communications specialist, a leadership facilitator and mentoring coach with over 12 years experience in communications includes roles in the print media, Corporate communications, PR and international communications across public, private and Global organisations. She currently works for the Department of International department in Malawi as Education Adviser. Prior to this she worked with the British Council Malawi as Deputy Director and also had responsibility for leading communications across 8 African countries. Her company LIVEXCELLENCE', a leadership and personal development outfit helps organisations and individuals to effectively apply a 'can-do' spirit, greater leadership literacy and purposeful action to achieve visibility, improve performance and fulfil potential. Vera Ng'oma can be reached verangoma@gmail.com

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