STOP MAKING IT ALL ABOUT YOU!
It is New Year’s Day, a time to hone in on what you want to accomplish in the coming year. I’ve spent the morning reading article after article about career goals, and they all seem to have the same theme in common: it is all about you. Get healthy. Read more. Establish a personal brand. Learn to negotiate. Find a sponsor.
Welcome to Planet You.
While there are plenty of articles about giving back, the conventional wisdom about leadership seems to neglect a universal truth: Leadership is a social sport. The path to the top requires the support of others. If you are striving to become a leader, it is time to consider what is in it for everyone around you:
1. Your customers
- What problem do they have that you are looking to solve?
- Understand your customers’ needs and pain points, and focus your goals around delivering for them.
- Don’t think you have customers? Think again. If you work in a back-office function like finance, HR or IT, then your customers are your colleagues. The same rules apply.
2. Your company
- Understand your business, your strategy and your role in driving your company’s success.
- Set clear, quantifiable goals that align with the company strategy.
- Measure them regularly, and make your performance visible to those who stand to benefit from your success.
3. Your boss (yup, your most important customer)
- Your top priority is to make your boss successful.
- Understand their goals for the coming year, and consider how you might hone your efforts toward helping them.
- Share your goals with your boss, and let them know that you are focused on helping them succeed.
4. Your colleagues
- When you are setting goals for the year, make sure you take the time to consider the collective goals of your team.
- If your boss has not articulated those goals, consider proactively brainstorming with your colleagues to arrive at a few collective goals, and then present those goals to your boss. Make sure that your part in achieving the team goals is clear and quantifiable.
- Most of all, consider what you can do to help the people around you succeed. You may find that what you give comes back to you exponentially.
5. Your employees
- Rule #3 applies in reverse: your top priority as the boss is to make your employees successful. After all, they work for you.
- What are the professional goals of the people who work for you, and how can you help them get there?
- At the top of the list should be this goal: Establish trust.
6. Your family
- Last, but certainly not least, make sure your professional goals jive with your personal ones.
- Take the time to assess your professional goals with those of your partner. How can you support each other when you are not working?
- Consider the things you can do to make each other’s lives easier.
I started my own consulting business less than a year ago, with the support of my family, many former colleagues and friends. One colleague stands out as a mentor and sponsor. He brought me to his company to help him and the CFO solve a few problems. He asks me regularly to share my goals for my new business, and in writing this article, I now realize that I neglected to share the most obvious one: help him and his company succeed. While I certainly have goals that are far more self-serving – getting healthy, reading more, and establishing a personal brand among them – the goals that will most contribute to my success will be those that not only serve others, but also motivate those around me to have a vested interest in my success.
If you want to get ahead, give the people around you a reason to help you get there. Help them first.