You’re a Sales Rockstar! You put up numbers like nobody’s business. You know the Alec Baldwin speech from Glengarry Glenn Ross by heart, and you’re an Apex-Predator-Level Closer. Unfortunately, the attributes contributing to your success are the very same undermining your future – chief among them your Dominance (i.e. Your Ego or Bravado).
Way back in human history there was a time we believed the Sun revolved around the Earth. As we evolved, we came to understand otherwise. The same holds true for insanely successful employees. They’re dang good at what they do, and they know it. As such, they sometimes come under the false impression that the company revolves around them.
I use sales as an example, but this could be anyone in any organization. These are your restaurant quality 800-pound gorillas steamrolling everyone in their path to achieve an objective. They play manager against manager, treat peers like subordinates, and focus on the singularity of their goals. What’s lost upon these individuals is each employee is but an extension of the organization, and no one individual is greater than the sum of an organization’s parts. When you treat people otherwise, you demean their contribution, and miss out on important developmental opportunities.
Let’s revisit our Rockstar salesperson. They are driven by challenge and sometimes the biggest fish are the only ones they’re willing to hunt. However, what if those big fishes aren’t really the best clients for your company? Your Rockstar is looking at the commission and thrill of the chase, and you’re left wondering what happens if this behemoth account is even profitable. The dominating nature of these individuals oftentimes precludes them from the practicality of cultivating the ‘right’ mix of clients. They want Ahab’s Whale, so batten down the hatches.
While these folks add to the bottom line, they leave a wake of destruction in their path. Their transactional demeanor alienates colleagues, and their obstinate approach to work poses a tremendous amount of exposure. After a while, many people within the organization struggle with the debate of cutting a successful producer loose (and losing them to a competitor) or keeping them on and running triage on those they affected. The latter is often viewed as untenable, and tough decisions are made.
Dominance is a tool, just like Energy, Reflectiveness, and a host of other behavior traits. As with any tool, when used correctly it has a tremendous upside. People of influence, go getters, and the folks making things happen have dominating characteristics - the truly successful among them know how to balance drive with practicality.
Leaders of domineering people have to work especially hard to keep them focused. It’s takes some extra effort, but as a mentor once shared with me, “It’s a lot easier to steer a moving car.” Have open, and direct conversations about your employee’s aggressive tendencies, while working to understand how best to position their efforts (and drive everyone else a little less crazy.) If you’re the 800-pound gorilla (no judgement) check yourself. Talk to your colleagues, reach out to your manager for feedback, and work better to understand that your success in driven by the success of those around you. When you contribute in a productive nature, everyone wins – from clients to owners, and ultimately, yourself!