“It’s simple: all you need to do is step back a bit and you’ll see it.” she said, with such assertiveness that my mind actually started going back to try to focus better on what she had said. Before I could stop, something clicked inside of my head and I saw it: her plan would definitely work. It wasn’t perfect, but it was useful.
“She” was an employee I once had, a very well rounded Top Performer who from the beginning gave me goose bumps: so much energy, so dedicated to learning and taking one step beyond whatever challenged her. I never thought she would grow that fast and learn as much as she did, but she did and eventually left my team. She never told me this, but I am pretty sure she felt she outgrew me. And I never told her that she did.
When you work for someone it is only logical that you look up to that person, or that you want to at least. It is rare though, that you, other than work for that person, admire him or her. When that happens though, it becomes even rarer to challenge them by becoming as good as them or outgrow them and become even better than them. If that happens and you become an admirer of that person, outgrowing them becomes an impossibility and even feels like an offense.
Writing this was weird, and saying out loud even more. Do we admire those who we work for? Not always, and for some people not ever. Admiring them is easier when it’s someone you would love to work for, but what about the person you actually do work for? Do you admire that person?
Should admiration be your driver?
It does pose a few questions. The one that comes the easiest to my mind is: should I? Admire the person I work for? It is not an obligation of course but if I don’t admire that person, should I be worried or concerned? What if I discover that I don’t admire that person at all? What does it mean for me, and for that person?
You do not choose to admire someone more than you choose the color of your eyes. You can of course modify that, but should you? I would say no but you should rather ask yourself: shouldn’t you try to work for someone you do admire, or give the person you work for the chance, an opportunity to show you there’s reason to admire him or her.
The reason is simple: when you do admire that person, you strive to imitate them and eventually surpass them. It is a given as there’s no better career booster than inspiration. Admiring the person you work for is not something to choose but to yearn for: work for someone that inspires you, only instead of putting that person in a pedestal, visualize yourself achieving the same results they do…and then some more.
Admiring them is great for them…but outgrowing them is the real tribute.
You’re telling them, showing them they did a fine job which is the one true goal of anyone managing anyone: help you get to the next stage, advance your career, become the next better version of yourself. That’s their job as it was mine when this girl stood up and showed me what she had achieved.
It took her telling me “hey, I’m there already” as I am a bit slow but I never felt better, prouder and more awed at someone as I did at that moment: she was the first and thanks to her and what she caused in me, she was not the last one.
I actually admire her…so it’s my turn now 🙂
Also published on Medium.