Who really controls your success at work?

11Mar09

In my first management job in the 1980’s, I had seventeen men reporting to me. I was not only the first woman they had worked for, I was the first woman ever named as manager in the business unit.

My boss had called all of them and me into his office one day to make the announcement.  Some of those assembled had been in the running for the job, too.  The room was hot, over-crowded, and tense.

He announced that I was their new boss, then looked around the room at each man in turn.  It was quiet.  He looked down, shook his head as though in deep thought, looked up and said, “She has talent. There is no reason she won’t be a good manager.  And, fellows, I am holding each of you responsible for how she turns out.”

We laughed – nervous little chuckles.  It was a brilliant move of mis-direction. They were immediately engaged in my success, like it or not.  My boss had put a mutually beneficial relationship opportunity square in front of us.

Who ultimately controls your personal success in an organization?

Many people mistakenly believe that their talent, drive or results will speak for themselves.  In fact, many corporations tell their employees that if they want to be successful, produce results.

But, have you ever had someone else be given credit for your hard work, your ideas, your results?  Been blamed for someone else’s mistake?  Happens all the time.  

Corporations are social organisms. They are made up of individuals with feelings and opinions and needs.  So, my answer to the question of who controls your success, is that in any organization, to sustain success, you have to have a critical mass of others acting on your behalf.  Genuinely.

On the competitive field that is the corporation, creating mutually beneficial relationships is your top goal.  It means devoting energy to other people, maybe to lots of people, and doing it especially when you don’t need anything specific from them.

Find a way to devote energy to others’ success.

I have been wrong – what do you think?

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