The Heart of Your Network

We’re not big TV watchers in our house, but we like a show called “Blue Bloods.”  If you’re not familiar with it, Tom Selleck’s character is the New York City Chief of Police. In this season’s final episode, his three top aides were squabbling. To remedy the problem, Selleck’s character ordered the three of them to switch jobs. Predictably, all three were soon overwhelmed with their new responsibilities. This led them to a new appreciation of one another’s responsibilities.

There’s a career success point here. It’s always important to appreciate the work that your colleagues do. None of us can succeed on our own. Sometimes you’ll get frustrated with your colleagues, but never take it out on them personally.

Your colleagues are your closest network and your networks are key to your success. Being considerate of your colleagues and appreciative of the work they do is a great way to build a strong, supportive network.

A true story about one of my coaching clients:

James was with his company for close to 30 years. He had risen through the ranks and was in a senior position. But he was suddenly asked to resign. James became the protégé of a senior manager early in his career. The manager had great faith in James’ business acumen and problem-solving ability. Whenever a problem arose, James’ manager would ask him to “look into it and fix it.” James enjoyed these challenges. He was able to quickly zero in on the root cause of problems, and fix them.

James created issues for himself though. Many of the problems he was asked to fix were not in his area of responsibility. They were his peers’ problems. In solving these problems, James stepped on the toes of his peers—sometimes not so gently. They came to resent him for it.

When his boss retired, one of James’ peers was appointed to take his place. Three months later, James was asked to resign, but not because of his performance. He was asked to resign because he hadn’t built a strong network with his peers. Often, by doing what his boss wanted, he alienated the people closest to him.

James’ story illustrates an important point about career success. Strong networks are key to building a successful career.  No one can go it alone and succeed.  You have to build and nurture a strong network of colleagues and peers. Begin by appreciating the work those closest to you do.


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