Here’s the scenario: You work a mid-level desk job at a corporation that you’ve been with for a few years, and you’ve done pretty well for yourself. You’re well known, you’ve networked, and gotten yourself a few promotions along the way. You’re trying to set yourself to move up. You’re not quite there yet but your record is spotless, and besides a few more items you’re currently working on that would qualify you for the position, you’re golden. The management position is within sight. It’s the next step. You can practically see it in your future.
One day, your boss approaches you and commends you on the great job you’re doing. He says to you that the review board is looking at your record and you are well on your way to a management position. You smile. Even though you’ve felt that you were on the right track, it’s always nice to hear that your work ethic is being noticed. But then, the tone changes and you realize that you’ve been set up for the letdown. Sure, there are always things that you can improve on to better yourself and make you better prepared for the next higher position, but everything comes at a cost (let’s stick a pin in that for now).
Your boss then tells you that the review board wants to see more of you and what you can do. Sure, you do have that spotless record, but they want to see you in action. After all, what kind of leader leads from behind a desk?
Now, let’s talk more about you. You’re an introvert. You’re not loud and obnoxious, and you have a very small circle of people you consider “true” friends. You get along with people at work, but you aren’t the type that leaves your work on the desk just to go joke and pass time with your buddies in accounting. You don’t talk trash with the janitors in the smoking area, and you certainly don’t kiss up to the managers. You’re just a guy (or gal) that’s known to get the job done. You work behind the scenes to accomplish your goals. The few people in your office look up to you. They confide in you. They ask you for help. Most importantly, they trust you. When they do well, you let them know and reward them if possible. When they’re wrong, you also let them know. Your methods of reprimand are largely unnoticed, mainly because you never do it in public, and it’s something your workers appreciate. You have fun at work, sure. But you know that your people come first and your work comes next.
In a nutshell, your personality has made you who you are. It’s who you are known as, by you your family, your friends, and your coworkers. Now, in order to be competitive with your mid-level peers, your boss tells you that you must make some changes (go ahead and take that pin out).
You must work on marketing yourself not only to your office, but the entire department. You know you can, but you ask yourself “do I really need to?”
Let me explain.
Our country is extremely diverse. Along with it are all of the corporations and companies, and businesses, also with their own group of diverse individuals. Individuals. No, I’m not only talking about race and gender, but also personality types. I’m no expert, but I think this is a key piece of what makes us diverse, and we don’t address it nearly as much as we should. At an entry level position, it’s all about doing what’s required of you to keep your job. Once you move up and get a little bit of responsibility, maybe the authority to make minor decisions, it all changes. This is where the molding comes in. The key thing here is that most, if not all managers have their own story of how they got the position they now sit. Along with that comes the wanting to “give back” and help the up and comers also achieve the same status. Here are two phrases I’ve heard from two different managers on career advancement:
1: As you move up and attain more responsibility, you will have to decide the type leader you want to be.
2: In order to be successful in this position, this is the type of leader you have to be.
Which one sounds more appealing to an up and comer? You decide for yourself.
The point I’m trying to make is this: Why are we so “fake” concerned with diversity and innovation and originality, but at the same time, requiring out new talent to be exact replicas of our former selves? That’s what I think a mentor is not. If there are milestones that I need to hit to reach an objective, by all means share your knowledge and guidance. But why is there a need to try to change people? What does my personality have that my work ethic doesn’t? Why be loud and charismatic when I can just show you through my actions?
My suggestion? Why don’t we teach our mentee how he or she can channel their own personal strengths for the good of the company? If you’re a loud person, learn how to use that to inspire the masses. If you work better in smaller groups, then be great at that. Sure, we should find the right niche in our weaknesses and build from there, but being well-rounded shouldn’t require you to change your persona.
Fellow introverts, help me out. We are amazing at just about everything (personal opinion). Public speaking, we can do it and be great at it. But just because we aren’t the joke master, “hey, look at me,” freestyle rap battling, gossiping, in crowd cool kids that doesn’t make us unworthy of being great leaders. We achieve the same results, we just crossed the bridge from different sides.
I wouldn’t be myself, I’d just be another you.
#2 down, vigor with continuance.