An inflection point is often thought of as the biggest disruption an industry can face. One might occur, for example, when incumbents get rattled by competitors exploiting new technologies. Andy Grove first introduced the term to business strategy as “an event that changes the way we think and act.” But these intensely challenging moments not only happen in companies and industries, they happen in careers, as well. They are points when — for whatever reason — the conditions we work in or the expectations placed on us are so fundamentally altered that, if we don’t adapt, we will fail.
When executives hit career inflection points, it is common for them to feel inadequate. Coming up with the right answers to their problems becomes more challenging. As seasoned leaders, they use skills and strategies that yielded great results in the past — but those same skills and strategies don’t solve the new problems of the present.