Conventional wisdom suggests that for career success, you need to show your value by working above and beyond. But is this the full story?
In the opening scene of The Godfather (1972 Francis Ford Coppola. You can watch the clip above), Don Corleone is receiving requests for favors, on the day of his daughter’s wedding. The undertaker asks for revenge against two boys who beat his daughter when she refused their advances. Don Corleone grants the favor, but not before saying,
“Someday, and that day may never come, I’ll call upon you to do a service for me. But until that day accept this justice as a gift on my daughter’s wedding.”
The Godfather movie is a case study of the power of reciprocity for influence. If you are going to give value, know your value, and seek value in return.
I am currently coaching a Senior Vice President, who has her eyes on a C-level promotion. She has made her aspirations known to her organization and is being offered a highly visible transformation project.
As I was preparing her for the meeting with her boss and the Company President, she said, “I don’t want to link this project to my promotion aspirations”.
“Why the hell not?” Was my, less than diplomatic, response.
“Can you successfully complete this project, and what is the monetary value to the organization?”
My coachee, let us call her Margaret, said she was confident that could successfully complete the project and it would be worth $100 million to her company in the first year, with significant growth in subsequent years.
This is one big favor!
I shared with Margaret how another one of my coaching clients had delivered massive value to his company, on the promise of promotion, but that promotion did not transpire, because he had not really articulated the reciprocity. The good news is that I was able to help him get the C-level promotion and a significant equity stake, but it was much harder, after the fact.
Margaret understood and agreed to frame the reciprocity as follows.
“I’m excited about this project, and I’m confident that I can deliver value, to the order of $100million in the first year, and growth thereafter. Realizing that this will take significant effort, over and above my current responsibilities, I trust that this will be reflected in my next career progression discussion.”
Notice that the framing makes the reciprocity explicit but does not make a demand.
"To give value, you must know your value."
And it is my experience that people who have made it to the top, of any field, recognize the value and respect those that know their value.
In 2007 Joshua Bell, one of the best concert violinists in the world played for free, for 45 minutes, on a violin worth 3.5 million dollars at a subway station. Over a thousand people passed by Bell, but only seven stopped to listen to him play, including a 3-year-old boy. This social experiment demonstrates that people will overlook value if it is not articulated.
In this current environment, it is more important than ever to articulate your value within your organization. With everyone dialing in by Zoom or Teams, there is no longer a proximity bias, and articulation of value is now on a ‘level playing field’.
You may need to learn to show your Executive Presence through a Webcam, but Global Visibility is more accessible than ever. So, what are you waiting for, Take on Extra, but get the Credit!
BEING HUMAN WHILST DELIVERING ACCELERATED RESULTS