When You Should Never Go At It Alone


Today we are honored to have a guest post by author Kathryn Heath. She is celebrating the launch of her new book, The Influence Effect this week. Her words come as a timely reminder that we should never go at it alone – because going at it alone feeds into the lie that we are the only one.



A very wise person once told me, “The biggest mistake you can make is one that you make alone.”


But when you’re smart and ambitious, aiming to be promoted to the C-suite one day, you want to shine and be recognized for your own decisions and brilliant ideas. Maybe you’re thinking, “I want to handle things myself so people think I’m strong and self-assured.”


A senior manager has a challenge with one of her firm’s biggest clients. A decision to go in a certain direction, if it’s successful, could help move her career to the next level. She feels that if she can handle this decision alone with the client, she will be seen as strong, and as a rising star. If she fails, it could be difficult not only for her client, but for her firm, and her career as well. Afraid it’s too risky, she shares her challenge.


In my years of coaching high-potential talent, I advise my leaders to vet their ideas and consult with others. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and guidance, especially if the decision you need to make involves risk. If you make the wrong decision, the consequences may be obvious!


But there’s a delicate balance to be struck. In asking others for advice regarding your challenging situation, be careful not to overdo it, or you could come across as insecure or indecisive. Try the subtle approach: Socialize your point of view and your strategies; test them out in casual settings, such as passing in the hallway or in the elevator, over coffee, or walking to the train.


This valuable advice applies to both men and women. However, it’s somewhat of a double-bind for women. As women, we are told, “You need to lead and be assertive,” but now here we’re told, “Consult, collaborate, don’t risk going it alone.” Consulting with peers to vet ideas in the face of high risk is not a show of weakness. It’s actually the opposite – you’ll exhibit confidence and a measured approach to risky challenges, and just plain good business savvy.



About Kathryn Heath

Kathryn Heath is a founding partner at FHHL who develops leadership programs, coaches executives, and designs training. She co-authored Break Your Own Rules, which landed on the best-seller lists of The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today and The Washington Post. She also co-authored The Influence Effect: A New Path to Power for Women Leaders. Previous to FHHL, Kathryn was Senior Vice President and Director of First University at the nation’s fourth-largest bank, First Union (now Wells Fargo), where her inventive and results-focused approach won her numerous awards in the field of learning and development.


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