I started my corporate career in January 1982 with a work ethic that was handed down to me by my parents and my grandparents. Some of the most critical elements of my work ethic were; work first and play after, perform to the best of my abilities, and support others in every way possible.
While the first two elements were important in developing my career and leadership style, the last one was the one that seemed to set me apart and solicit the most positive feedback from others. Supporting others was second nature for me as a result of the way I was reared by my mother.
My mother was a role model for how you supported others with whatever you had within your reach. Sometimes, she was supporting others with advice and suggestions, and other times she was supporting them with resources such as money or food.
Watching my mother give her support to others left a lasting impression on me. I found myself, early on in my career, supporting others with what I had at the time. Sometimes it was my best practice for how I got my work done and other times it was my listening ear or my comforting shoulder. Supporting others became a habit that did not require much forethought when the opportunities presented themselves.
It only made sense at the end of my corporate career and the beginning of my entrepreneurial adventures to reflect on my work ethic and in turn my habit of supporting others. I found out quickly that there were ample opportunities to support others as an entrepreneur.
What I learned about supporting others from my corporate career was relevant and valuable to my new company. I strategically found ways to support other individuals and organizations. Supporting them was in alignment with my core values and the business principles that I subscribed to in my new company.
The first component of supporting others for me is for the support to be visible, not in the sense of making a big deal about it and going for the spotlight. It was all about making sure that the support was visible to the people who needed it the most.
As a volunteer for several organizations, my showing up is critical to their mission. Being visible at the events and promoting the organization and its mission is how real support shows up. Being a volunteer gives me so many opportunities to show my work ethic and more specifically how to support others while being in service to them and their organization.
A second component of supporting others has to include making it actionable. People who talk about getting around to doing something and never actually do it are not being supportive. Supporting others requires me to do something, to take action.
The act of supporting someone else is always at the forefront of my mind when I show up at an event or meeting. Speaking up, setting up the room, preparing the handouts, taking notes, or giving an encouraging word before someone makes a presentation are all actions associated with supporting others. Being assertive is key to demonstrating your support for others.
While in the various leadership roles that I held during my career, I accepted that supporting others might very well be a one-way experience. As the leader with the authority and power to make decisions about others’ career development, I never expected them to do anything for me in return. Their performance and results were what invited my support for advancing their career.
As an entrepreneur, I found myself working with those who I thought were my peers and colleagues more than working for others or them working for me. This mind shift opened me up to expect supporting others might be more mutual. I have not found the evidence I would have expected to support my new paradigm.
I find that in my new world of being an entrepreneur, I am more often than not in experiences without mutual support. I continue my practices and habits of supporting others, only to realize that there is not the mutual actionable and visible support that I would have hoped for.
I am not asserting myself as a victim, rather I am level setting for the reality of being in a new space. This new space more often than not feels lonely, isolated, and alienated. My sense is that others will accept support but not be as quick to give it back. We each have a unique work ethic.
The Servant Leadership principles were embedded in me as a result of my corporate career and my ability to test and apply them over and over again. They became a part of my leadership style. I know that I will continue to support others in any and all ways that I can. While I offer my support to others to help out, I also live in integrity with my work ethic and core values. That means I will continue to support others whether it is mutual or not.
In this day and age, it is easier than ever to support a fellow entrepreneur or business owner. Sharing their social media posts on your timeline gives them visibility to your community, sharing a testimonial on social media gives everyone a chance to learn more about the person and their services, showcasing them on your podcast, asking them to write a blog for your site, referring them to clients who need their unique services are just some of the ways to support others.
The support that we share with each other promotes visibility for all of us. There really is a win-win to be achieved when we support each other in actionable and visible ways.
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