I vs We. What is the tipping point between personal ambition and being a team player?

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Whoever said that the top of the ladder has a nice view was kind enough to warn us that it can also be a lonely place, and most probably spoke from experience. From my previous blogs you know that I am a huge advocate of taking charge of your own career and having an entrepreneurial spirit. It is also very important to understand the balance between I and We, because as true leadership often begins with an “I”, it usually ends in “We”.   It truly is a balancing act.

This balance often translates to present vs future, or at least there is a very direct correlation between the two. While yes, planning your future is entirely your job, you do have to honour and respect your present. Being a team player is leadership at its best. I am not a huge hockey fan but I was always in awe when “The great one” would never accept personal accolades after a win but rather, always gave credit to “the team”. That is not to say he did not devote his entire focus and energy into maintaining his skills at a top notch level and managing his career equally skillfully off the ice.

Which leads us to another balancing act, do you dim your talents and drive for the sake of being liked and being part of the “We”? Hell no! There is a huge difference between efforts to be liked by your co-workers and your being respectful of them, your superiors and most of all respectful of yourself and your talents. Giving credit where credit is due and sharing victories as well as enjoying strategic collaborations is one way to ensure that doors remain open and you’re enjoying the journey to your better self.

In coaching one of the very first exercises you do is to write your mission statement. At the beginning it feels odd and outright silly. It took me a long time to understand the value of it, now it is my compass. You see, once you know why you do what you do and what your personal values are – and you make sure that you are honoring them- it is only then you begin to live your truth. That is also what makes you genuine and gives power to your own voice. It also provides a clear direction to what is right for you and what it is not.

Sadly along the way even if you share the victories, give credit, are fair and play by the rules you will encounter those who will resent your drive, will challenge and question your motives and at times even outright sabotage your efforts. It is at this point that being liked no longer matters especially if it means to no longer be true to yourself and your own goals. Selling yourself short to be part of the masses leaves you, well, being part of the masses. That is hardly a winning strategy for leadership.

Speaking of values, it is quite easy to spot people with a personal agenda. This is actually quite important. People with personal agendas are awesome as long as their personal agenda is aligned with the leadership’s and everyone is rowing in the same direction AND working ultimately for the same goals. That is when your personal drive is welcomed with open arms by leadership and the sky is truly the limit.

If your personal agenda goes against the grain and is neither valued nor in the right environment remember: Honour the present, be the best you can be at your current circumstances but begin to work at mapping your future, investing in your-self and building bridges to your success which could mean single handledly changing a culture, a process or an entire organization as long as it is in service of a greater good. It won’t be easy or pretty but trust me, it will be worth every sweat and tear drop along the way.

I leave you with very inspirational words from Maryann Williamson made famous by Nelson Mandela:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? … Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you… And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

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