Thursday, November 14, 2019
I'll Take The Stairs
Early in my career I was obsessed with moving up the corporate ladder. I wanted to lead and effect change and create new avenues for organizational development. It was important to me. While my intentions were genuine, my process was flawed. I created what would have been viewed as a "work self". I was inauthentic to my genuine personality while at work. I put on a certain face, asked questions to show I knew the answer, volunteered for projects only for the sake of personal recognition and reveled in internal competition. At some point, I realized my ambition was causing me to act out of character. I'd been inelegant in representing my motivation. Instead of being a person others looked up to, I was the person others avoided. I had become the annoying guy in the office. The only choice I had was to leave a job I loved for the sake of cleaning the slate.
I started over by putting genuine intention into my work. I wanted to be sure any minute spent on the job was done so for a higher purpose; for something I believed in. I made sure my heart and mind drove my motivation. I let my work speak for me. I listened more than I talked. I was humble in victory and accountable in defeat. I did everything I could to make others look good. I used the term "we" instead of "me".
Then, a strange thing happened. I realized that I did not need to ascend the corporate ladder to evolve professionally.
People ask me all the time how they can climb the ladder. Here are a few thoughts:
We start our careers with an intent of mastery. We want to put our 10,000 hours into our core job function to master a trade. There is a race to leveling up.
The problem is that the core skill set of programming may have nothing to do with leading people. People are predictably irrational and thus our quest for understanding is often met with an inability to see the forest through the trees. If you are rooted in a grid that makes progress a step by step process, you might be missing the key ingredient to progress.
While you master your trade you need to practice counter-intuitive thinking to meet others where they sit. You don't need to know anything about accounting to recognize an accountant's self-defined path to progress.
Leadership is an Act of Servitude
He tend to associate leadership with force. He look to those in positions of power to be assertive, decisive and confident. The perception of force driving influence is the very problem with qualification for promotion. Think about it.... I'd guess the worst bosses you've had possess the aforementioned characteristics while those who genuinely made an impact on your success were trusting and transparent.
Too many individuals alter their personalities to showcase what they believe the organization is seeking from leadership. One leaves their propensity for connection to prove they are not "too nice for the job".
Great leaders are willing to perform every task they ask of their employees. You'll find the best managers shelf micro-management for trusting relationships. When one realizes that their only job as a leader is to teach people the necessary skills and trust them to perform, engagement is inevitable.
How Thank You Works...
I've had conversations with people who have thanked me for something I did for them 10 years ago. There is a divine truth in the world in which we work:
Just Because People Don't Say Thank You Doesn't Mean They're Not Thankful
... it is, however, difficult to realize this in the moment.
The way to master the patience of navigating recognition is not to expect it. If your actions are driven by a need to hear thank you, you are mislead. The journey in assisting others has many formless by-ways. If you only act to impress others, you will never be genuinely happy. When you learn that giving is more important than receiving, you stop expecting credit for your every action.
Don't Forget to Remember,