Is there someone you work with that could be your career saboteur?

You haven’t thought about it?

I hadn’t either until I was asked.

A gut wrenching feeling

The trainer asked “Who do you know that can help your career?”

I excitedly wrote down all the people I could think of. It was a great feeling thinking about how these people could help me succeed.

She then changed direction and asked us “What one person do you think could negatively affect your career?” i.e. your career saboteur.

My positive feeling didn’t last long. It was quickly replaced by a fearful stomach wrench.

I knew exactly who it was. Let’s call him Joe.

Joe’s career was accelerating through the ranks very quickly due to his delivery success and powerful allies. His modus operandi was an aggressive deliver at all cost approach and he didn’t mind who he walked over in the process. If you was in his camp you were looked after well, if not then you just kept out the way.

The issue was that Joe and I worked for the same business clients and our team’s work was interrelated.

Eliminate the risk of the career saboteur

Just as I was thinking about the future conflict I was going to have to deal with, the trainer asked another question. “What can you do to eliminate this negative risk on your career?”

Good question I thought. I have no bloody idea!

I then thought to myself, what would my Russian mentor do?

Well, there would definitely be no fear. This was one of the four rules he taught me and lived by.

I got it, he would bring him close. Always bring your enemies close Nick. How the hell was I going to do that?

Before I could think of a strategy, the trainer moved on to another subject.

My mind kept wandering all afternoon as I kept thinking about the future threat.

After the course I went back to my desk and brainstormed some ideas.

My natural style is to be collaborative, so I decided to include Joe and his team leads in my decision making and prioritisation meetings with the business clients. I created a partnership with Joe and his team leads in front of the clients. Transparency and partnership towards the goals of the clients was something both Joe and I were driven by.

I still had to deliver, but that was up to me. As long as I did that, then I had eliminated the other risks.

I never really created a relationship with Joe, but I did with his team leads which lasted long after Joe’s reign ended.

Wrap up

The question the trainer asked had a very powerful effect on me so I always ask my corporate clients the same question.

Like me, it has never crossed their minds.  So I help them discover who it is and how to eliminate the risk.

Should you be keeping someone close?

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Your virtual coach & mentor

Categories: Leadership