Whether it’s beginning a new job, managing challenging interpersonal dynamics, or navigating a leadership role, each step in your career can present opportunities to act with integrity.
Though it may be difficult, here are a few thoughts to keep in mind as you progress in your career.
Come As You Are
When you first begin a new job, it’s important to be authentic and focus on growth rather than change, and it’s important to know the difference. While a workplace can and should challenge growth both personally and professionally, growing within the person that you are is different than changing by compromising who you are and the values that you hold.
Growth allows us to maintain our personal beliefs and ultimately makes us healthier people and more productive employees. Conversely, changing who we are asks us to shift our character in order to meet others’ expectations and demands. We can easily lose ourselves for the sake of someone else. Being yourself and remaining open to growth ensures that you will produce the best quality of work. We all perform best when we perform within who we are.
Know Your Value
Workplaces are often dynamic with many personalities, leadership styles, talents, and roles to manage; this can be particularly challenging as you adjust to a new role. When we feel discouraged about our performance or a professional relationship, we are wise to remember that our value remains outside of our circumstances in the workplace. When we place our value in others’ opinions, we may feel the urge to act in ways that cater to others instead of acting on what we know to be right and true. Remembering your worth and where it comes from will help you to persevere through challenging seasons and make decisions that are consistent with what you believe.
Be The Change
Once you’ve become familiar with your workplace, you may begin to notice systems or interpersonal dynamics that could be improved. If you have a differing opinion or a desire to see your workplace culture change, don’t be afraid to respectfully express your perspective. While it may feel like a risk and require courage, it’s usually more destructive to be a bystander than someone who is willing to politely challenge the status quo. After all, nothing changes if nothing changes. You could be the very change your workplace needs in order to function more healthfully and effectively.
Focus On What You Can Control
Inevitably, the time will come when there is movement within your organization and it can be easy to become anxious about what those changes will mean for you. The competitive nature of many workplaces can be stressful to navigate and may trigger our fear of not measuring up or of being overlooked. As a result, we may be tempted to act in ways that are out of character in order to get ahead. Instead of doing our best with the tasks we have been given, it can be easy to compare our opportunities against others’ or spend time worrying about a coworker’s chances of advancing versus our own. No matter what the circumstance, focusing on what we can control is not only more productive, but also a great opportunity to show character in the workplace.
However, we are always wise to focus our energy on what we can actually control versus what we wish we could control. Focusing on our own performance and being the kind of person we strive to be is ultimately the best way to get ahead.
Ultimately, we can be proud of a job well done when we can be proud of the person that we are along the way.
Lend A Helping Hand
Eventually, it will be your turn to manage others in a leadership role. What legacy do you want to leave? One of the best ways to change a culture is to learn from your experience of being at the bottom. What was helpful? What encouraged and discouraged you? Evaluating your experience with your superiors is a great way to discern the kind of boss you want to be when it’s your turn to manage those beneath you. Using your status as an opportunity to serve others and build them up demonstrates confidence and leadership.
Ultimately, we can be proud of a job well done when we can be proud of the person that we are along the way. Staying committed to your values and character may be difficult at times, but will get you further in the long run.
Have you had a compromising situation at work? How did you handle it?
Image via Henry El’ Day