Roll Up Your Sleeves: Growing You & Your Team

If you have a goal to achieve and a stronger team to build, the only foolproof way to ensure you make forward progress is to roll up your sleeves. Here’s what I mean.

When I was in my early 20s, I remember a job being posted inside the organization where I worked, and it was a job that I wanted! I felt like I needed this job in order to continue my upward trajectory in the organization, to achieve my ultimate goal.

[Watch this story.]

So, just imagine… I came in with guns blazing, probably a little bit too hot! And I walked right up to the CEO’s office and told him,

“I see this job has been posted, I want it.”

And he very kindly said,

“Okay, Alyson, cool your jets, go back to your office, we’ll talk about this tomorrow.”

Come 8:35, and down the stairs comes the CEO, and he walks right into my office. He shuts the door behind him like the universal sign for “this is serious, we’re going to talk about something important.” And I’m thinking,

“Yes, that job that I want, you’re here to give it to me, to appoint me to that position.”

Earned, Not Given

So, I start listening as he begins talking and he says,

“Alyson, you’re the most qualified person for this position in the organization, and I think it would be great for you as far as the career path you want here. But here’s the deal: I’m not going to appoint you to that position until you make things right with Karen.”

As soon as he said this, I knew exactly what he was talking about.

Karen and I didn’t get along very well. We were like oil and water. I mean, there was never any yelling or screaming or fist blows or anything like that. But everybody could tell that we didn’t get along.

Our Problem Is the Team’s Problem

And when that dynamic exists on a team, it’s not good for anybody.

So when the CEO said,

“I’m not going to give you this position until you make things right with Karen,” internally there was a part of me that was screaming, “This isn’t fair. I shouldn’t have to. This is her problem.”

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He said he knows it was her issue, but he also said he knew she wouldn’t fix it. I remember being really frustrated.

Choose Your Response

But I also know that leaders remain emotionally controlled. Leaders don’t lose their temper. We don’t just go off.

So, I sat there emotionally controlled and I listened, and I told him I would take action to remedy the issue.

That night, I went to bed planning how I’m going to have this incredibly difficult conversation with Karen, to make sure that we both leave the conversation moving forward together. For my good, but also for her good and for the good of the team.

Make This Good for Everyone

That’s where my focus was. Making this good for everyone.

Because that’s what leadership is all about. At the end of the day, it’s not about what we can get. If we focus more on what we can give, and how we can help others, then I believe success has a way of finding us.

The next day, Karen and I have this hard conversation. (That’s a whole story for another time!) But we had this conversation, and we moved forward better together.

I learned early on that you can’t always control your circumstances. Life may not always be fair, but you have a decision to make. You can roll your eyes or roll up your sleeves. And only one of those gets you results.

Roll Your Eyes or Roll Up Your Sleeves

So today, whatever situation you find yourself in, if there’s a goal you want to achieve, something you’re after, make sure that your focus is a win-win-win outcome.

And I want to encourage you to step up, own it, take action, roll up your sleeves, get to work, make life better for you, for your team, and help everybody be more successful going forward.

That’s leadership, and I believe that’s what makes all the work worth it at the end of the day!

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Alyson Van Hooser

Alyson Van Hooser, Pres & CEO, Van Hooser Leadership. With the grit that only comes from tough experiences, Alyson has learned a thing or two about personal and professional success. From her management experience with Walmart, as an elected city council member, bank manager — all before the age of 30 — Alyson has wisdom well beyond her years! Her podcast, Stake: The Leadership Podcast, offers a fresh perspective on leadership and helps multiple generations successfully work together! Connect with Alyson on LinkedIn.


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