Karen Russell challenges communications professionals to discuss 12 issues. Last year, I contributed with CA post, Conversation with the Boss. I’d like to extend the conversation and answer follow-up question, What is the biggest mistake I made early in my career?
Simple answer: Not having/demonstrating automatic respect for senior positions.
Seven years ago I walked into a pr agency thinking I would conquer the world…ASAP. My ego was HUGE. I had landed a great position as an account executive and entered the agency business above entry-level. I felt I had paid my dues in previous paid pr positions throughout college. What did these older people know or could teach me? I kept this attitude as I made my way into corporate/government communications. I was in for a rude awakening.
"Demonstrate respect for the existing process, chances are good that you work with the person who created it and they are more likely to support you if you support them." —Newly Corporate: Soften Your Change to Succeed
My passion (outspokenness) led to senior management noticing me. I had a love-hate relationship with all co-workers and management. It was my way or tantrum. I grimace as I think about my past behavior. My quest for change was overshadowed with personality conflicts. I did not see titles; I saw obstacles.
My turning point was during a company worldwide manger conference. I had been invited to sit in on a think tank with the COO and senior leadership. This was not unusual. The topics discussed and solutions proposed were nothing new. I became frustrated and voiced my thoughts and opinions. I had no respect for the positions in the room. I was consumed with self-centeredness.
I am still with this company. It has taken quite some time to repair burned bridges and recover from my outburst. I may not like these people or agree with their tactics and opinions, but at the end of the day, it is their word and decision. Hopefully, I will rise to such a coveted senior position and I must remember the blood, sweat and tears it took to get there.
Leave personality conflicts at the door. Respect the position. One day some young pup will be saying and acting the same way towards you.