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News & Blogs: Rising Above the Middle

Is ambition standing in your way?

Thursday, February 19, 2015  
Posted by: Barbara Francella
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By Lisa Martin

Here’s something to consider: Is ambition preventing you from being a great leader?

I believe leadership is about people first, goals second — because you won’t achieve any goals without people on your side.

Ambition has a nasty way of tainting relationships. If it’s unchecked, it’s a sure-fire way to limit your abilities as a leader.

I often encounter people who are preoccupied with being popular at work. Others spend inordinate amounts of time trying to get in good with the higher-ups.

Related: "3 types of inspiring leaders (which are you?)" 

People who really get the importance of relationship-building know it’s not about currying favor, leveraging influence or calling in favors. Quite the opposite.

To connect with people you have to get out of your own head and think beyond your own aspirations. You need to start truly understanding those around you and what motivates them on an individual level.

You know you’ve got great relationships when people are inspired to take action because they feel personally committed to your ideas. They know you want what’s in their best interest, not just your own. When people see you this way, trust arises. And from that trust, there’s a willingness to help.

Ask yourself these questions to assess if ambition is in your way:

  • Do you mostly connect with people for a strategic purpose rather than out of genuine interest?
  • After you meet someone new do you think about how that person might be useful to you in the future?
  • Do you tend to disregard people if you think they’re not in a position to help you?

If you answered "Yes"’ to any of these questions, it’s time to start examining the priority you place on ambition. Reconsider the importance of genuine human connection.

Leadership development: Focus on understanding what motivates the people you work with. Really get to know people on a deeper level. Aim to have a least one conversation a week with team members that is relational versus transactional. Pay attention to the difference this makes in the strength of your relationships and your ability to get the results you seek.

Lisa Martin is the creator of the Lead + Live Better™ programs, author of five books, including the bestselling Briefcase Moms, and a seasoned speaker. For the past 15 years Martin has invented and delivered leadership programs for PwC, Time Warner Cable, HSBC, TELUS, Vancouver Canucks, Rogers Communications, UBC and many others.

Views expressed in blogs, posts and user comments are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Network of Executive Women or its Officers, Board members and corporate partners.

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