How often have you been at a meeting and you listened to an idea that you knew was only half-baked, or even off the mark but you didn't say anything? Did you fear retaliation? Or maybe you believed it was important to be humble and modest and not show off your far better knowledge. You might have even felt proud of not appearing arrogant or conceited.
No matter your rationale, you may have developed the habit of "staying behind the scenes" letting others "shine" while you executed on their ideas. It's now become routine to not stand out by sharing your wisdom and in some cases far greater creativity.
There are at least three problems with this boycott of standing out:
- The company isn't getting what they hired you for, and what they pay you good money to produce. Instead they are getting a shadow version of your excellence. And very often when this is the case, your manager will try to "smoke you out" by challenging you to work harder, better, smarter. But that never addresses the real issue—which is your pride in letting others stand out, not you.
- Eventually you're going to feel overlooked for promotions and not given the juicier assignments. You may not even realize that you've been the choreographer of this situation, but it will begin to hurt your feelings and you may begrudge those who are getting further ahead while you feel stuck.
- If you don't confront the real issue, which is your false belief that you need to be behind the scenes and protecting others, you'll be in danger of becoming bitter, depressed and perhaps even become "sick of it" in actual physical symptomology.
So rather than risk any of that, please remember that your company hired you because of your expertise, your particular intelligence, your experience. When you wonder if you should disagree in a meeting or even out and out correct someone, remind yourself that if you do it with respect and care and you advance the issue, you'll be doing what the company hired you for.
Judith Sherven is a clinical psychologist with over 35 years experience as a psychotherapist, transformational executive coach, and business consultant.
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