Life Isn't Fair. Life is about Who You Know.
It's only natural that people are only going to give interesting and important high-stakes work to people they know and people they trust.
Linda A. Hill is the Wallace Brett Donham Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School. She is the faculty chair of the Leadership Initiative and a former faculty chair of the Organizational Behavior unit at Harvard Business School. She is the author of Being the Boss: The 3 Imperatives of Becoming a Great Leader and Becoming a Manager: How New Managers Master the Challenges of Leadership.
Professor Hill has a book forthcoming in 2011 from Harvard Business Press on leadership for innovation, which focuses on exceptional leaders from information technology to law to design, from the US and Europe to the Middle East and Asia.
One of the problems we see in life that sort of make some of us kind of angry because it sometimes is not so fair, and that’s why we need to charge of our own development, is that
What you get to do is based on who you know. And if you don’t have the right developmental network - people who know you - and know what you’re capable of, they’re never going to recommend you for that job or that opportunity that will allow you to acquire special expertise. You’re never going to be able to say to them, “By the way, I’m ready.”
Unfortunately who you know does affect what you get to do, which in the end will reflect on what you know. And if you’re not the one who knows, then as people write, you will become deskilled, you will be a person who frankly is not ready to contribute, and therefore should not be surprised that you’re not the one who gets to, if you will, reap the rewards of the organization.
I think sometimes people think, "I’m just going to do my job and it’ll all be okay and if it doesn’t work that way, life is unfair. You know, I just can’t play those games." Well, if you don’t “play those games,” and I don’t mean the political in-fighting, etc., it’s only human or only natural that people are only going to give interesting and important high stakes work to people they know and people they trust.
And so you have to take charge of your own development, think about what that network of developmental relationships needs to look like, and periodically you might need to ask yourself, “Am I missing someone on my personal board of directors who I need to have there to help me get access to opportunities either inside this company or outside this company so that I can develop expertise?”
In Their Own Words is recorded in Big Think's studio.
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