Risking it

Risking it

July 22nd, 2009

by Ted Grossnickle

Last week, I was asked by a long-time friend and professional in Advancement to help him think about his current search for a new senior leadership post in our profession. He asked me to read some of his materials and letters and to ask hard questions of him. I know he is a person who will hear what I say, even if he doesn’t agree with it. You have to respect that.

Later in the week, I was asked by a colleague if I’d ever heard of a certain professional in our field. I had indeed and knew of their work over many years. This person has moved from position to position – many of them – over a twenty year period. I know this professional will interview exceptionally well for whatever opening is there and will likely “wow” the search committee. I’d be incredibly surprised if they are still there in eighteen months. This is a person who “knows the answers” and believes it a weakness to ask for advice.

After more than three decades in this profession, I’ve come to the conclusion that the thing which separates the good from the mediocre is the willingness to be vulnerable and to ask and hear authentic, sometimes critical advice about your work and your management style. What a dangerous thing it is to risk our egos and self deceptions. And what an incredibly liberating thing it is to do it and learn lessons from it. You have to respect that.

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