Getting Unstuck: Bouncing Back from a Career Detour

CareerCast - Life-long Career Development

Tim Butler

In this CareerCast, psychologist, author, and cocreator of CareerLeader Tim Butler shares his insights on turning challenges, setbacks, and dead ends into new paths and opportunities based on specific situations and questions submitted by GSB students and alumni.

Aired October 16, 2008

A principal and cofounder of CareerLeader, LLP, Tim Butler is director of MBA Career Development Programs at the Harvard Business School, where he has worked since 1984. Together with Dr. James Waldroop, he developed the internet-based interactive career assessment program CareerLeader ( CareerLeader is currently used by over 400 MBA programs and corporations around the world, and includes the Business Career Interest Inventory, the Management and Professional Reward Profile, and the Management and Professional Abilities Profile, all instruments designed by Butler and Waldroop.

Tim’s work focuses on two areas of interface between psychology and the world of business: individual management development (executive coaching) and career development assessment and counseling. He has worked with a wide range of organizations in both the manufacturing and service sectors, from Fortune 50 corporations to smaller high-growth firms. CareerLeader, LLP’s clients include McKinsey & Company, Fidelity Management Research Company, GTE, General Electric, Citibank, Andersen Consulting, Sony Music Entertainment, KPMG Peat Marwick, BankBoston, Gillette, Boise-Cascade, Hewlett-Packard, Genuity, PA Consulting, Premier Health Care, AMS, Spaulding & Slye, Bolt Beranek Newman, JAFCO Ventures, Boston Edison, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Mercer Management Consulting, Maximus, Philip Morris, Boston Communications Group, Pittiglio Rabin Todd & McGrath, and the Kuwait Petroleum Corporation.

Publications (co-authored with Jim Waldroop unless noted otherwise) include: Getting Unstuck: How Dead Ends Become New Paths, sole author (HBS Press, 2007); “The Hidden Flaws of Top Executives: How to Find Them Before You Hire Them” (HR Professional, in press); “Understanding ‘People’ People” (Harvard Business Review, June 2004); “A Function-Centered Model of Interest Assessment for Business Careers” (Journal of Career Assessment, August 2004); “What a Star—What a Jerk” (with Sarah Cliffe) (Harvard Business Review, September 2001); “Redefining Roles, Customizing Careers” (Pathways: The Novartis Journal, July 2001); The Twelve Bad Habits that Hold Good People Back (Currency Doubleday, 2000, foreign language editions in Arabic, Korean, Mandarin and Taiwanese Chinese, Portuguese, and Thai); “Managing Away Bad Habits” (Harvard Business Review, September–October 2000); “Guess What? You’re Not Perfect” (Fortune, October 16, 2000); “The Art of Work” (Employment Relations Today, October 2000); “Job Sculpting: The Art of Retaining Your Best People” (Harvard Business Review, September–October 1999); “Eight Failings That Bedevil the Best” (Fortune, November 23, 1998); “Finding the Job You Should Want” (Fortune, March 2, 1998); Discovering Your Career in Business (Addison-Wesley, 1997, foreign language editions in Dutch and Mandarin Chinese); “The Executive as Coach” (Harvard Business Review, November–December 1996). “Managing Your Career” and “Retaining Valued Employees” (Harvard ManageMentor, Harvard Business School Press).

Tim has lectured at business schools, corporations, and other organizations throughout North America, Asia, and Europe. He appears frequently as a keynote speaker and is often interviewed in various popular media on topics related to attracting and retaining talent and maximizing performance.

Getting Unstuck: How Dead Ends Become New Paths, Timothy Butler (2007). 

Women’s Survival Guide for Overcoming Obstacles, Transition & Change, Linda Ellis Eastman (2007). 

Brazen Careerist: The New Rules for Success, Penelope Trunk (2007). 

What Got You Here, Won’t Get You There: How Successful People Become Even More Successful, Marshal Goldsmith and Mark Reiter (2007). 

Go Put Your Strengths To Work: 6 Powerful Steps to Achieve Outstanding Performance, Marcus Buckingham (2007). 

Firing Back: How Great Leaders Rebound After Career Disasters, Jeffrey Sonnenfeld and Andrew Ward (2007). 

Career Comeback: Eight Steps to Getting Back on Your Feet When You’re Fired, Laid Off, or Your Business Venture Has Failed—And Finding More Job Satisfaction Than Ever Before, Bradley Richardson (2004). 

Working Identity: Unconventional Strategies for Reinventing Your Career, Herminia Ibarra (2004). 

The Power of Failure: 27 Ways to Turn Life’s Setbacks into Success, Charles Manz (2002). 

Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done, Larry Bossidy, Ram Charan, and Charles Burck (2002). 

The 12 Bad Habits That Hold Good People Back: Overcoming the Behavior Patterns That Keep You From Getting Ahead, James Waldroop and Timothy Butler (2001). 

So You’re New Again: How to Succeed When You Change Jobs, Ed Holton and Sharon Naquin (2001).

Tim Butler Getting Unstuck

Read an excerpt of Getting Unstuck: How Dead Ends Become New Paths by Tim Butler. 

Read the Excerpt