A Difficult Lesson to Learn

Man in suit drinking coffee.
Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash

One of the most difficult lessons I had to learn early on was that being loud was not the same thing as being passionate. In fact, being loud and assertive was hurting me more than helping my case.

The messaging was all wrong. It showed resistance, instead of concern.

Becoming a leader

On the road to becoming a leader, you will need to change. The qualities that made you a senior or even a manager, will need to grow or change to go further. One important lesson to learn is that sometimes, what got you here, will hold you back from where you want to be.

When you start your career, you want to show your drive. That can be done through extra hours and volunteering for additional projects. Showing your passion for the company is always a good thing. But that is not always sustainable over the course of your career and as you get promoted, it can backfire.

Why would it backfire to always volunteer for additional assignments? Well, it depends on the nature of the assignment. If you continue to tackle the types of jobs that got you noticed, they will not help you get noticed for future promotions. You will be dependable and could be known as a expert at them. That credibility is what moves you up when you first got hired, but why are you still doing it? Have you tried to improve it? Did you manage to change it so that it is no longer a volunteer project? If you’re not bringing anything new to it, improving it, reducing it, or the like, it’s not helping you.

When you move into management, it’s like graduating from elementary school. The classes and expectations are going to be harder. You need to learn to delegate and make decisions. If you are the only one who can take care of a task, you are stopping you’re self from being promoted.

Once you are promoted to a lead or manager, start studying different aspects of the business and industry. You will still want to volunteer for new tasks, but look for ones that show off different skills. Look for ways to grow while developing your team.

If you haven’t read my article “On the Topic of Failure“, now would be a good time. The lesson there is that failing is an important part of growing. Getting over your fear of making a bad decision and learning from it will help you advance in your career.

Learning my lesson

Let’s get back to the lesson, I mentioned at the beginning. When I was younger, not only did I volunteer to take on more and more tasks, I also thought that being vocal about my opinions was a good thing. That it showed my passion for the company and the success of the product. In reality, it was holding me back. I was seen as too opinionated and even hot-headed. It was not the image I was looking for.

While I had many coworkers that were happy to work with me and knew that I was going to go deep. There were people who thought I was being too rough. I managed to hurt my image.

Luckily, I had a great manager who was able to bring me back to reality. After that, I started changing how I addressed concerns. Being calm is far more productive when it comes to explaining and resolving issues. I worked hard to rebuild the connections and image that I had first developed.

What about you? What are some of the qualities that led to your rise initially, but might now be holding you back?

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