We all know Corporate Climbers.
People that seek promotion at any cost.
Ambition is good, but there is such a thing as too much ambition – see this video for more information on the dangers of ambition. Climbers typically have too much ambition. But, to be clear, you can be ambitious and not be a Climber.
Some Climbers are decent to others, but most are not. Most see others as competition.
We’ve never been Climbers, but we know one when we see one.
The problem with Climbers, for everybody other than the Climber, is that it never feels good to feel like shark bait. Or be a rung on a ladder.
The problem with Climbers, for the Organization, is that they rarely stick their necks out until the “risk” is a safe bet. Others typically take the risk, and once it’s got legs, Climbers magically show up. They just slide right in like Tom Cruise in Risky Business. They show up and take over because they need to “own” the success to ensure failure does not happen. For anyone who has taken risks, it’s almost comical if it weren’t also sad, disappointing, and utterly predictable.
Risk-taking is not a Climber’s strength. Taking advantage of others when the opportunity is proven real appeals to their temperament.
The concern with too many Climbers in your Organization is that it typically correlates to poor corporate culture. The Organization’s achievers, the risk-takers, can only take so many people with a “savior complex” before they are done with others taking credit for their work.
To find out whether you are a Climber, we suggest doing some soul-searching and asking yourself the following questions. Note: These questions are from the book Humanocracy and are a bit binary.
- Do you subtly (or not so subtly) undermine coworkers?
- Do you hold on to power when you should share it?
- Do you disregard the human costs of a decision?
- Do you fail to challenge a counterproductive policy?
- Do you do less than you could to foster the growth of those who work for you?
- Do you play it safe when you should have been bold?
- Do you unfairly deflect blame or claim credit?
Self-inventories are an effective tool to assess whether you are a Climber. In the end, Climbers serve their purpose, but an organization full of them will not likely be a fun place to work.
Ambition is good – it pushes us, but be wary not to let that ambition turn you into a Climber.
What to do if you are heading down the Climber path?
Here are four steps by People First to get started:
- Let your standout performance speak for itself.
- Choose an approach that is subtle in your quest for the right connections.
- Share credit for work done in groups. Be sure to recognize others for their contributions.
- Help others get recognition, relationships, and career advancement opportunities.
To summarize, take the “Rising tide lifts all boats” approach in everything you do, and you’ll be on a much better path.
References and Resources
Humanocracy by Gary Hamel and Michele Zanini