Frankly, it’s not always easy to see how your attitude impacts your career. We’re all guilty of getting in our own way, but when does it become a real problem? When does your attitude morph from a time to time concern to a full-blown career crisis?
Let’s face it. At some point in your career, you’ve hindered your own progress by not playing well in the sandbox. You’ve stalled projects intentionally. You’ve deflated enthusiasm with your bad attitude. You’ve driven bickering and resentment. You’ve encouraged gossip. You’ve disrespected your team. Basically, at some point in your career, you’ve acted like a tool at work; we all have!
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I know what you’re thinking…HA! That isn’t me. Everyone I know would describe me as the ultimate team player. The ace in the hole. The go-to person to get things done! Sorry, but I have to ask, would they? Are you sure about this?
If It Walks Like A Duck, Quacks Like A Duck…It’s A Duck
Over the last few months, I have been coaching a team of young entrepreneurs launching their first start-up. As individuals, they are all smart, passionate and hardworking. They are tenacious, driven and bubbling over with enthusiasm. They have everything you want to see in a team, except, they are not functioning as a team. They are struggling to gel, work cohesively and get things done on time and under budget.
Working to get to the cause of their issues, it didn’t take long to find the root problem. Their struggles as a team trace back to one person, Nick. (name changed for confidentiality)
Nick possess all of the same great character traits as the rest of the team. One-on-one he is awesome. He eagerly participates in building the business and rolls up his sleeves to get work done. Despite all of his effort though, I began to notice a reoccurring theme in our coaching sessions. Nick acts like a tool at work!
Nick second guesses everything and never makes an independent decision. He also never takes responsibility for his part in failed ideas. He is the first person to say “I knew that wouldn’t work” yet he never brings his own ideas to the table and never challenges new ideas when presented. He happily goes with the flow during strategy sessions and then quickly passes the buck and points fingers when plans go sideways. He crushes any energy the team has and has started to become dead weight. Meanwhile, Nick remains frustrated by his team’s lack of forward progress but has struggled to see how his attitude impacts his career and team. He is quick to recognize there is a problem, but he can’t see he is the problem!
Nick has blinders on and he is slow to open his eyes to what is happening around him. If Nick could simply step back and look at the situation empirically, he would easily see how he is negatively impacting his team and ultimately the success of their new business endeavor. It is always easy to see the mistakes someone else makes, but it’s a bit harder to see your own mistakes clearly. If Nick does not choose to get out of his own way, he will eventually self-destruct.
Your Attitude Impacts Your Career Immediately And In The Future
Your attitude impacts your career today but also has downstream effects. As a professional, your reputation is critical. You’ve worked hard to get to where you are and you don’t want to become “that jerk”. Being a jerk in business looks great on TV, but rarely works in the real world.
You may not realize how you are perceived by others. Take time to reflect on your actions. Are you truly viewed as a leader or are you just bossy? Do you constantly walk out of meetings thinking your peers are “dumb” or less engaging than you? Do you find yourself complaining about things without offering a solution to correct the problem? If you answered yes, you need to rethink your attitude and professional demeanor.
Having your own ideas and challenging your peers is encouraged. Being negative and finger pointing is not. Take time to reflect and make a change today to be a better team member, peer, and leader. Your career will thank you!