On Your Side?

Entering the corporate world after college with my prior substantial work experience being laboring in a lumber yard, I had much to learn.   One matter that took me far too long to appreciate was the value of discerning who was supportive of my efforts and who was not.   After many years of working for a large company and in that time dealing with 1000’s of counterparty individuals, my powers of discernment improved.    I characterize those with whom one interfaces as follows.

True supporters: Those you know that you know you can trust, who will give you honest and timely insight.  Ideally, if one’s true supporters have positional power, that is better still.

Fair weather friends: Those who provide support when such action aligns with the positions of leadership.   If these positions change, they are gone faster than zig-zag lightning.

The Judas: Those who appear to give support, but who just as easily will betray you.   Often those of the Judas variety feel threated by you.

The Hapless: Those who try to be supportive but really have no ability to do so.   Their heart is in the right place, but you cannot really count on them.

The Political: Those who have an agenda. Usually, they need to push their position or their person past you, so they will do what it takes to derail you.

The Malevolent: Those who for whatever reason just don’t like you.   Often this is due to a difference in style or approach that they cannot accept or match.    Or maybe they misunderstand you.

Determining who is with you and who is not is an art unto itself.   Certainly, having a large network that allows one to triangulate the intentions of others from multiple perspectives helps.    You can make friends of course by providing support to those from whom you desire support.  Learning the subtle ques of body language is invaluable.   My favorite tactic was to run little experiments where I provided information and then observed how the individual in question used it.

Anyway, the point is, ultimately one must look out for oneself.  It is, after all, your career.   I am reminded of something Jesus said when he sent his disciples into enemy territory.

“Be wise as serpents and gentle as doves”.  

Image: “Catch me if You Can”, a hawk and a hummingbird
#career #experience #networking

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