Get Along or Get Ahead?
24 August 2017
No doubt, at least once in your career, you may find yourself making a decision about your progression and your colleagues. It seems you are faced with a tough dilemma: Get along or get ahead. As humans, we are naturally social animals, and our instinct tells us to make friends, co-operate and not to upset the apple cart. However, our desire to further our careers might force us to ignore these sentiments.
How often have you heard it said of successful individuals in the business world “Oh, well, you don’t get to their position by being nice to people,” or “You have to trample on some people to get to the top.” The perception is that you have to crack eggs to make an omelette; nice guys finish last (and any other glib turn of phrase you can think of).
So, does it have to be compete or co-operate? How much of your career depends on you forging ahead of others instead of being amenable?
For me, being well-liked is an important part of being a leader. Whilst you can’t please all of the people all of the time, if you’ve taken a Frank Underwood-esque approach to get to where you are, chances are your reputation will precede you, no matter where you end up working. There are many examples of business leaders or even world leaders who have managed to work their way to the top because they are popular – not because they are necessarily the best person for the job.
Any promotion you receive may well ruffle a few feathers, but a good leader doesn’t allow this to snowball. An overly aggressive attitude towards competition and promotion will earn you few friends – and then who are you going to call on should you need references? Reputation is something that – thanks to the all-consuming nature of social media and technology – can be made or destroyed through a few choice words.
Interpersonal fit lends itself to good business and productivity. If your staff feel confident in you as leader, they are likely to be more productive. However, if they see you as someone who is always changing the goalposts, stirring gossip and pitting people against one another, they are likely to burn out or leave altogether.
Whilst the image of a greedy, scheming Jordan Belfort makes for good cinema, it’s not going to do you any favours in the real world. So, in actual fact, you shouldn’t have to choose between get along and get ahead – you should endeavour to get along to get ahead. As Psychology Today puts it, you should “co-ordinate effectively with people who have a hand in your professional destiny.” Your way to the top should not be marred by back-stabbing or any other form of underhand behaviour.
If you are looking to pursue a more senior role and require advice or guidance on the best approach, I would be more than happy to speak with you confidentially about your options. Click here to see my details.
Written By Barry Lee