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It's common knowledge companies no longer provide long-term job security like they once did. There have been too many mergers and head count reductions for anyone to believe absolute corporate loyalty is worthwhile. In practical terms, this means everyone is responsible for his or her own career development. Yet, having said this, another problem comes into play: what kind of dedication should an employee now feel towards their employer? What's appropriate and what's responsible?

What if you worked at the same company for 17 years only to find out one morning the company would be closing your division within a couple of months? And, the company won't be relocating anybody. Sound familiar? How can you remain loyal in the face of such stories, especially when they happen so frequently? You can't! In essence you're forced to devise a career strategy, that doesn't depend upon corporate security. In terms of career development, loyalty and dedication are now negotiable. Integrity, however, is never negotiable. This is the formula so many employees are now learning to live by.

The deal is, you now trade your dedication for specific career rewards. In this way, your career advances no matter what company you're working at. Of course, everybody talks about skills and how important it is to constantly be expanding and improving your skills, which is true. But there's more to professional growth than just skills. The other thing you should bargain for is responsibility. Your professional growth will depend upon expanding your responsibilities. Here's where integrity becomes so important. The point of responsibility is to take on problems others don't want or can't handle. This is your opportunity to own the outcome and thereby increase your value. Your professional integrity is the key to getting more responsibility.

Most bosses are more than willing to hand over responsibility when they trust the person they're handing that responsibility to. Therefore, you need to emphasize professional integrity in place of loyalty. The calling card for growth becomes your ability to develop skills and take on responsibilities in exchange for your dedication. Look for the opportunities to do just that!