Are you feeling stuck in your current role? Are you driven to change but need help knowing where to start?

If you are pondering how to take your career to the next level, but have concerns about the risks involved, read on.

No matter where you are in your career, it is always important to evaluate your current role, how you envision success, your steps to achieve it, and ultimately, get to where you want to be.

At any moment in time during your career, there are three different paths that you can take: Stretch, Growth, and Acceleration, as can be seen below.


One path that you can follow is stretch.

If you take this path, you will stay at your current firm but take on a new role. It is a stretch because you are learning and acquiring new skills in a new position but within your organization’s safety.

The stretch path consists of two moves. You can either

(1) move vertically, in the form of a promotion, where you will be taking on more of an expanded role, or

(2) you can move horizontally to another department or function requiring you to utilise different skill sets than what you currently use.

Both moves are demanding, as you will be faced with a unique set of tasks and challenges you haven’t encountered before.

A vertical move may double your responsibilities or push you to become a key decision-maker.

A horizontal move may expose you to another side of the business, where you may be tasked to solve problems much differently than in your previous role.

Let’s take the case of Swamy.

He loves working in his financial technology company as a Product Owner, but lately, he’s feeling his work is becoming stagnant.

In this situation, the stretch path is a reasonably safe bet for Swamy because he can pursue a new role at a company he loves.

His experience as a Product Owner and his pre-existing knowledge about how the company works, its mission and vision, and the broader industry will greatly benefit any role he takes up in his organization.

He could transition to a product marketing role, apply for a pre-sales role or any new territory that he wanted to explore. Since he already has a proven track among his colleagues, he can focus all his energy on getting accustomed to the new role.

This transition while a stretch, could be seamless with the right amount of effort.


Another path that you can follow is growth.

If you choose this path, you can continue doing a similar role but leverage your current skills to serve in a new organisation.

It is growth because transitioning to a new organisation comes with challenges, as you will be in an entirely new business or industry. This path will be challenging because you will be exposed to new working styles, colleague dynamics, company culture, and more.

Your new company may do things very differently than what you are used to, so it will take time to adjust and find your way within the firm.

However, you have the safety of your skill sets, knowing your role, responsibilities, and expectations.

You are already an expert at doing your job, so that you will be confident in that.

This is an exciting path to take, as it will provide you with many opportunities to leverage your existing skills and test your ability to utilise those skills in a new environment.

One thing to consider in the growth path is that it may only sometimes be a promotion.

You can still learn, challenge yourself and refine your skills doing your current role in a new atmosphere. Promotion is one of many ways to grow in your career.

For example, Gomathi, who has experience as a Sales Director in a pharmaceutical company, will still be challenged if she moves to a tech company or another industry vertical.

Her wealth of experience in sales will aid her greatly, but her entry into a new industry will spark new life into a role she once thought was becoming stagnant.


The third and most challenging path is the acceleration path.

If you choose to go down this road, you will take on a new role at a new company. This path is the most demanding, as you will face the challenges of the growth and stretch paths combined.

It is the riskiest path because it is unfamiliar territory.

Everything will be new to you, but you will have the opportunity to learn and rise to the occasion.

This path will (and should!) blow you out of your comfort zone, and there is no safety net. Your skills will need top-notch self-confidence, ambition, drive, and will to scale greater heights.

It is one thing to “want to grow”. It is very different when you need to take the next step to translate that “want to grow” to action.

Are you up to the challenge?

Bala is a thought leader, speaker and a Fortune 500 C-Suite Executive. He currently serves as Chairman, and Board Director for Balmer Lawrie – Van Leer Limited.