Our next real-life example concerns passing on a promotion within a culture which prizes competition and quick personal advancement through stellar immediate results on projects.
Shared by Tara Mohr in her writing, it is based on a conversation with one of the graduates of her Playing Big programme, Margaret, a director at a major global professional services firm. Their conversation took place several months after Margaret had finished the course, and Tara describes it as a story of positive change that moved her.
“[Margaret] explained to me that she’d been offered a highly coveted promotion, a role for which all her peers at the firm had competed. When Margaret “won”, everyone assumed she would take the job, but she turned it down – making company history as she did so.
Why? When she was offered the promotion, Margaret was 50 percent of the way through a multi-year project she’d developed from inception. She didn’t want to abandon the work or her team. She valued relationships. She valued seeing things through to the end. Plus, Margaret believed that part of what created corruption and waste in her industry were the practices around promotions: a professional workforce that greedily leapt from job to job to advance as quickly as it could, one in which employees were held accountable for their immediate results but not their long-term impact. That led to poor decisions that weren’t really in the interests of people – the clients, the shareholders, the investors – who were impacted by them. Participating in that did not feel right to Margaret…
When Margaret turned down the promotion, she let people know why she did it, and she established her reputation as a leader focused on long-term impact, not merely her title. That led to some even more high-profile opportunities coming her way. Further, she started a conversation with senior leaders about the costs of the frequent promotions and employees’ resulting short-term focus.”
Some thoughts on this example:
Please share your thoughts on this real-life example with our readers – have you seen this in your professional career? How did taking a stand against the status quo turn out for you or them? Were you/they able to influence the culture through your/their action?