…So this morning I read a rock solid piece (here) from HR Pro RJ Morris over at Fistful of Talent. In the piece, Morris sights failure to create followership as a core reason that many would-be future leaders fail to ever live up to their potential. As an example of this process in action, Morris provides the following example:
…Let’s take Sally, who just started her career at Vandalay Industries. Here’s her career development:
1. Sally comes in, kicks butt in some technical or sales role
2. Shows initiative, has decent interpersonal skills, and gets noticed
3. The higher-ups call her a high pot and give her some new assignments and maybe a larger span of control
4. Inherits a team or builds a team, none of whom respect her as much as the bosses do
5. Higher-ups monitor her performance, which initially appears strong
6. Sally still gets results, but people begin to fall away from her team
7. Solid talent in the company find ways to join other teams
8. Over time, management catches up to what the people on the street have already figured out
9. Sally’s stock drops faster than that of the Japanese soccer team’s goalie
^The idea here is that because Sally failed to gain traction internally with folks lower down the org chart, she was unable to retain top talent on her team and over time this impacted her ability to produce results. Ergo, her once strong reputation with senior leadership as a “high potential” was eventually diminished and she fell off the fast track.
This is powerful stuff because it’s a reminder that to be successful it’s important to make real connections with people at all levels of the organizations – not just those that you think have the power to advance your career.
^But this piece was also powerful to me because it reinforced the fact that in our careers we all see highs and lows. Sometimes we’re ahead… and sometimes we’re behind. And so it’s important to never become too filled with hubris, no matter how successful one becomes. Because ultimately darker times are probably coming somewhere down the line. And so the way one behaves towards others – regardless of status – when they‘re riding high is probably a lot more predictive of their long-term advancement than their most recent big success.
…Potential is transient, but character is enduring (I think).
Just a Tuesday evening thought stream…
As always, please share your thoughts in the comments section below.