Three Things You Need on Top of High Performance

What assumptions do you make when you hear that a Managing Director got fired? This person must have done something seriously wrong, right? Maybe they were not performing. Maybe they dind’t comply with laws & regulations. Maybe they were a pawn in the game of downsizing. (Which comes back to  performance: any lay off starts with the low performers, doesn't it?)

Not at all!

In the past few months, I saw a number of senior executives being relieved of their duties. They all had one thing in common: they delivered  outstanding performance, and their track records impeccable. Obviously getting results did not save them from falling victim to corporate politics. 

If you are a top performer this should probably scare you. Especially when you're married to your company and when you have been believing that your quality of work alone will secure your job. Especially high performers with a more technical background (engineering, natural science, finance or the like) tend to underestimate the risk of politics.

Delivering quality work as a senior executive is a must. It's a conditio sine qua non. But it is not sufficient.

Here are three things to add to the mix in order to secure your job and feel at ease when you go to bed:

1) Understand and Play the Game of Politics in Your Organization

Who are the people in your organization holding  power? I mean real power, not  power according to the job title. Who influences who and how? Who are the gossipers, who are the ones who can elevate themselves only by putting others down? Who's friend, who's foe?

Building a powerful network of internal supporters who not only promote your work, but who also have your back when times get tough is mission critical for your career.

2) Network externally

'Too big to fail' is an illusion. You don't need to be a victim of politics. Even a renowned company can go down the drain faster than you think. (What was Nokia?)

It is wise to make connections outside your company and cultivate these relationships. So if the day comes, you have a solid network of people who'd love to work with you.

3) Have a plan B

When seasoned executives have given their life to one company and are laid off, it's like someone pulls the rug out from under them. It's the end of their world. Their every day life was determined by this one company, and if they are out from one day to another, it's devastating. They simply cannot imagine anything else they could do. 

So even when you're happy (eventually very happy) with your work, there is nothing wrong with keeping your eyes open and see what else is out there. Once in a while, update your resume. That has two effects: first you have it ready in case you need it. Second, you keep track of your achievements and you bring your skills and competencies into your awareness. This way you realize that you are valuable not just for your current employer.

Feels like you're treacherous? No, you're not. You're just smart and realistic. You may feel like you are married to your company, but I guarantee you that it is very likely your company does not feel like they're married to you.

Would you like to discuss with me how to build powerful networks to enhance your career? Contact me now at gerrit@vivocoaching.com. I look forward to talking with you.