1.11.2013

In the Driver's Seat or Being Driven?

There's an article I just happened upon that raised my hackles: When You're Driven, It's Normal For People Not To Like You. Uhm. No.

"The harsh truth about being successful is that you are going to make people irrationally mad at you in the process. It’s inevitable. Part of the painful journey."

No again.

If you have the outcome in mind, have a plan, and are setting intentions and steps to achieve it people will want to tag along with you. You become a charistmatic leader. Your passion becomes their passion.

If you always try to find the angle, if you're self-centered in your exchanges with others, if you steamroll over other people's emotions, if you take credit for their projects then yes, you will be hated. Hated a lot.

No man is an island. Especially those trying to climb the social or career ladder. Like it or not, you will depend on others above you and others below you for a variety of reasons. By being hostile and aggressive against those around you, you are engaging in self-defeating behavior. You're consciously or unconsciously alienating and isolating others who will play an important role in your success.

Haven't you heard about an executive who comes in for an interview and treats the CEO's assistant terribly both in person and on the phone? Those people usually don't make it far. The boss who keeps working her staff to burnout only to claim the glory of successful projects for herself will end up on the curb one day--after folks who play along finally decide to leave her out in the cold.

By only looking at what you can get out of something, rather than looking at things with a long-term perspective you are engaging in unsustainable behavior. Playing to lose. Worse, your behavior is transparent to everyone, even those too polite to say something. As a consequence, it's likely that your projects will shrivel up and die eventually--but not soon enough according to those you've trampled to get where you are.

There's a reason career website and blogs keep discussing soft skills as the make or break skill in your career toolbox. According to Peggy Klaus of BetterSoftSkills.com: "One study found that among 358 randomly selected Johnson and Johnson managers, the best performing ones possessed significantly higher levels of self-awareness, self-management capability, social skills, and organizational savvy."

So the next time you encounter someone new at a company you work at or are visiting, smile honestly. Small talk is a great ice breaker. Thinking briefly from another person's shoes does wonders for your long-term planning abilities. Make your next move a success, but not just for your self (me, me, me!) but for your TEAM. And remember, the only I in TEAM is hidden in the A hole.