Are the proverbial goal posts for achievement in a constant state of being redefined? They potentially are, which makes it much more difficult to determine what it can or will take to attain achievement. Achievement in terms of being able to move up to the next level in a variety of different categories associated with both work and sports.
Upon listening to a recent conversation about how different generations define what it takes to get ahead in the workforce, one generation was implying you needed to basically be “on-call” and respond to communications 24-7. This included doing this during your official vacation time, with no exceptions to this thinking. The other generation wasn’t buying into having to always be available to get ahead and thought this was an unhealthy practice. Also, one they were not going to be subscribing to get ahead.
What was interesting about the generation that thinks you need to always be available, is that they couldn’t seem to wrap their minds about considering a different approach. Their method of always being in constant communication had seemingly gotten them to where they wanted to be from a career attainment level, but is this method sustainable? It seems like a solid recipe for overwhelm, burnout at some point, or resentment. Then what?
The generation who looks at what it takes to get ahead without continuous communication access has an interesting outlook. One that appears to be a healthier approach from many levels. Although arguably this hasn’t been completely time tested yet, as the generation which thinks this way doesn’t have enough experience or attainment in higher level roles to fully play out the outcome from their approach. However, I see strong merit in their thinking, despite the fact there may be some fundamental flaws. Flaws which could be modified to ensure a higher level of success for their model. This accounts for considering that extremes of any type are typically not always ending favorably.
When a person is in a scenario when they feel obligated to be responding to others continuously, it can quickly put them into a state of hyper reactiveness. I’m not a medical expert, but as a human, I know that maintaining being in reaction mode is exhausting. I also know that when a human is exhausted, they tend not to make the best decisions. So, if someone is in a leadership role and they are exhausted and making poor decisions, who benefits from this outcome? That would be no one.
We know there are a variety of different leadership styles, and some are more suitable and sustainable than others. Whether you are intentional about selecting your leadership style, or mimicking one or multiple ones you have seen is in general how most leaders end up with their style. If they are fortunate to have witnessed a variety of leadership styles, they are better oriented towards being able to pick and choose the best attributes. Optimistically thinking, they are also able to recognize the less desirable attributes and not adopt them into their style.
Although, like habits, leadership styles can be either further enhanced or modified or broken if they are not serving the leader well. This is typically accomplished with support, with the first step of the leader recognizing an aspect of their style may not be working well for them or those they are leading.
Circling back to the aspect of unspoken and unwritten rules to get ahead, do they really exist? In my opinion, they do, but they are more difficult to fully know what they are, and who is monitoring which ones are still in play. Especially since there are vast generational differences about which of the “rules” are being followed, embraced, or dismissed. Since there appears to be a disparity in terms of which “game of rules” is out there which is loosely structured to define someone’s ability to succeed or to get to the next level, below are some suggestions to consider how to make this arbitrary set of rules become more understandable.
- Depending on what type of work or level of sport you are in, the rules for what it takes to get ahead will vary. What complicates this is the arbitrary nature of defining if the rules for one person’s level of achievement will apply to anyone else. Some of the aspects will, but you will need to consider which ones have more perceived value within the organization.
- Metrics can be helpful to define achievement but achieving them does not guarantee you will be a strong leader, or able to apply your ability to achieve as an individual and then shift these same achievement tactics to leading others. Often the individual achievement metrics are different from the metrics a leader will be measured by. For example, this is why you often see a top salesperson being elevated to the level of sales leader, but their success as an individual contributor does not offer any guarantee they will have the same level of success leading others.
- What’s your end game on achievement, and what are you willing to sacrifice to get there? What if you don’t make it? Will it really be worth it?
- Working on increasing your emotional intelligence is one of the categories just about everyone can benefit from. Look for opportunities to flex and build this skill whenever possible. It will serve you very well to increase your ability from an achievement perspective.
- Communicating effectively is a skill that can always be enhanced. The good news is that there are a variety of communication types (e.g., written, spoken, non-verbal and visual), and you don’t have to master all of them. Although working towards mastering one will be in your favor. Mastering two will be a bonus.
- Manners. Yes, manners and treating others well will work in your favor and will allow others to favor you over other people who do not treat them well or are dismissive and are stingy with basic words such as “please” and “thank you”.
- Having a willingness to help others, have and being open mind and unselfish while considering others will serve both future leaders and future head sports coaches well. People notice these behaviors, but don’t always comment on them, and are possibly keeping a mental score on whether you are participating favorably in these areas, or not.
If you have a willingness to achieve and to get ahead based on what your personal definition of this means, I’m sure you will get to where you want to be. I’m also hopeful that you will take into consideration also striking a balance towards both your personal and professional life, as I noted earlier that extremes tend not to serve anyone well.
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