Earn your Wings every day...


The companies I worked for always had a policy for posting all available jobs – from dishwasher all the way up to senior level executives. Employees appreciated the opportunity to express their interest in being promoted: we always discussed their requests, gave them reasons if they weren’t selected, and, when that was the case, provided guidance about what it might take to get promoted in the future. If they were selected, we discussed what it would take to be successful: while they would receive a title change, acceptance and respect had to be earned. Because employees watch and take time deciding whether a new leader is ‘good enough’ and invariably make comparisons to those who preceded them; they often give new leaders the benefit of the doubt but will often withhold final acceptance until they are certain. The best new leaders spend time listening before taking any actions, understanding that they will have one chance to make a good impression. If you have new professionals or leaders working for you, coach them to be patient, to learn the ‘lay of the land’, and to go slow while building competence and confidence; that’s what it takes to earn respect and acceptance. But remind them that their leadership status will never be given on a silver platter. Years ago, the old Eastern Airlines company had what I thought was a great slogan: “We have to earn our Wings every day”.  Earn your Wings today.

 

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf: 24th president of Liberia