Do you sometimes feel like the deck of life is stacked against you ? Are you looked over for promotions? Losing out to other applicants in your job search? Feeling unimportant in your boss’s eyes? Well, I’ve been there and done that, but I found a new strategy that has changed everything for me and I found it in my own backyard!
I came of age in the Women’s Movement. When I graduated from college years ago, I was full of passionate ideology. I was Woman; hear me roar. I had gotten the impression that my gender made me a societal victim, so I entered the workforce feeling entitled to more respect and advancement. In my personal life I wanted to flex my muscles in relationships to be sure I was not dismissed as “the little woman.” When I did not get the positions or promotions I felt I deserved within a company or organization, I was frustrated and eventually left the bureaucratic world, deciding to become my own boss and run my own company.
What became clear was that the “Boss” granted these elevated rights to the individuals he trusted; the ones that did not threaten him or challenge his authority within the group or in front of the others.
Well, …after two failed marriages and at least four failed businesses, let’s just say I had a bit of an epiphany. While watching the animals on my ranch, I paid attention to those that were not Top Dog — the ones that were in the “working ranks.” I noticed how a few of them seemed to get more than others from their Alpha boss. To these he would grant favored status by letting them have some of his food, his toys or other special possessions, and would even share his space – resources and privileges that were ordinarily reserved the high-ranking. “Did he just promote them?”, I wondered.
What became clear was that the “Boss” granted these elevated rights to the individuals he trusted; the ones that did not threaten him or challenge his authority within the group or in front of the others. He was most generous to those that accepted and confirmed his status even while hoping theirs to be elevated. In fact, those that enjoyed the most elevated privileges got ahead by getting along. I felt like Dorothy in the final scene of Wizard of Oz when she realized the answers she sought had been in her own back yard all along. The answers to getting more in my own professional and personal life were in my back yard, too! “Getting ahead by getting along” like the animals, changed how I approached life, work and love.
I focus on being supportive and helpful, and when I ask for what I want, it is without any hint of entitlement. It turns out the more they like me, the more they give me.
Fast forward to today. I am celebrating thirty years of happy marriage. My current company is successful beyond my wildest expectations and one of the best-known and most respected in its field. For the past seven years it has been named one of the Top 15 Women-Owned businesses in Northern California. I was even named their Woman Entrepreneur of the Year in 2012. What a difference a perspective can make.
My secret is simply one borrowed from Mother Nature. Instead of entitlement, I focus on appreciation and friendship. If I need something from someone higher on the ladder than me, I don’t demand it; I relate as a trusted friend, whether it’s my husband or a client. I focus on being supportive and helpful, and when I ask for what I want, it is without any hint of entitlement. It turns out the more they like me, the more they give me. My husband gives me love and support in our relationship and in my career. My clients give me business and referrals and more business. Employees that foster this same sort of friendship and trust within my company are the ones that I am most likely to promote. They rise in the ranks because they know how to get along and are not only good at what they do , but be likeable, cooperative and promote comradery within the company at the same time. Whether in the four-legged world or the two-legged one, those that are likeble, get more.
Don’t go through your professional life with a chip on your shoulder or a sense of what someone owes you. Don’t blame others for success that eludes you. Instead of muttering about being disrespected, missing that promotion or not being selected for a great new job, ask yourself, “If I were them, would I like me?” “Could they see me as their ally, or might they think I’m hard to work with?” And it’s always good to ask yourself, “What else could I do to help my boss that would show him or her how valuable I am and how much more I could benefit the company with a bit more responsibility?”
Forget being militant and demanding. That never works in the animal world so why do we expect it to work in ours? After all, humans are animals, too.
Be a friend, not a foe and success will grow
Mother Nature has spoken.
2 thoughts on “Getting Ahead by Getting Along”
Great message, Camilla . . . so many confuse getting along with conforming. I agree that it helps to establish a more collaborative environment, unleashing innovation and creativity.
Hi Camilla, first of all, it’s my first time on your blog and i must say….you literally swept me off my feet, your knowledge is simply outstanding, i have experienced the things you have said in my previous work environment and one very important thing that i have understood is that, the promotion or position doesn’t necessarily go to the most hardworking or skilled, as a woman, in the workplace, it is important not too come across as knowing too much or knowing too less, simply assist and support others any way you can without feeling like you are owed for it, it is also important to be likeable by your boss and other people around you, if people like you, they will support you.