Know Your Value

After hearing overwhelming evidence of her ongoing reality at work, I had to break the bad news to a talented and motivated young mentee the other day. She’s an excellent employee but you’d never know it by how she’s treated.

If they are not interested in helping you to succeed, they don’t clap when you win, and they don’t call to offer encouragement when they know you’re having one of those difficult times we all experience in life, they’ve told you the truth about your real relationship with them.

During your career, you will have those you supervise, coworkers, and bosses who are your teammates, supporters, trusted colleagues, or friends. Unfortunately, you might also have those who are not.

Always be a positive and productive employee. Always be kind, polite, ethical, and professional with everyone at work. However, you should never cling to a fantasy about loyalty to you that doesn’t really exist. Not everyone wants you to win but some amazing people really do want to see you succeed.

Those who believe in you and respect and care for you will be there for you during your career with them. They will help you when you can do nothing for them. They were your friends, trusted colleagues, and advisers before your promotion. They’ll tell you the truth. They mean well for you. They’ll still help you when it’s unclear that you’ll prevail. They will aid you when it could cost them something.

Know the difference between a personal and positional relationship. Know the difference between a true and a transactional relationship.

A CEO once told me 30 years ago, “The key to this job is knowing who to trust.” That’s true for leaders and all employees. Choose your team carefully. I’ve seen the wrong team end careers and ruin reputations. I’ve seen the wrong team help get people sent to prison. I’ve also seen the right team produce truly rewarding careers and extraordinary success for everyone.

I often put it this way, “The folks who were never really your teammates, supporters, or friends won’t likely come to your retirement party. Why? Because they already got whatever they could get from you and you can do nothing more for them now so why would they waste another two hours with you?”

Treat everyone right because that’s your character regardless of theirs. However, don’t be stupid and reward the unethical, untrustworthy, and disloyal with your time, trust, and labor. Know who to trust. Know who shares your values and values you. They believe in you and you can believe in them. Join and stay on their team and everyone will succeed together.


From the Teacher: Leadership Lessons with Dr. Saviak is a weekly column with the esteemed Joseph C. Saviak, Ph.D., J.D., M.A., M.S., Management Consulting & Leadership Training

Featured Image: Forbes