What’s your ‘sweet spot’ as an individual performer?

Of all the struggles we have in our lives and our careers, one of the biggest is settling on a role that marries what we do best with what the company we work for values most out of us.

Given the financial pressures, inequities in compensation and pride/ego we associate with our own performance and positions, nearly all of us at some point choose to try to ‘climb the ladder’. That is, get as big a role as you can with the most prestige, money, authority and yes, compensation and then try to milk it for as long as you can.

What do you do though when you get there and hate it?

The statistics of the number of people who are unhappy with their jobs is staggering. Surprisingly, this carries forward into the CEO and SMB owner’s office. Far too often, we find completely miserable people in these roles doing a frankly lousy job. Most just keep doing what they are doing day in and day out and hope for a break. Some share the pain by passing it down liberally to everyone they meet who touches their company. Should we really be all that surprised that 9 out of 10 SMB’s fail with this as their leadership perspective.

A select few have begun asking us the question … am I the right guy (or girl) for this job?

This is obviously a very ‘situational’ and ‘sensitive’ issue where no one answer or set of criterion is a precise predictor of the right outcome. But, we have learned in our practice that there are some pretty common characteristics of people who can handle the leadership role … and those who can’t. Fundamentally, it relates to how they work:

You are the right person if:

  1. You love the business you are in.
  2. You constantly look for ways to improve what you do for customers.
  3. You are open, collaborative and transparent in your management style.
  4. You like and are a good judge of people. .
  5. You enjoy and work through systems to operate.
  6. You are not afraid to make decisions.
  7. You have no stress about your role.

You are the wrong guy person if:

  1. You spend your time dreaming or researching new areas.
  2. You hate change.
  3. You don’t like people to challenge you.
  4. You trust your own instincts above all else.
  5. You’d rather not be held accountable for anything.
  6. You prefer the safest path forward.
  7. You are more concerned about your lifestyle than the business.

These are the defining moments for leaders of business. The days of making the easy buck are gone … forever. I had a leader in my office who remarked about one of our companies this week that “don’t tell me how well you did in 2005 when any idiot with a shingle out could make money … tell me how you did in the last twelve months when only the strong survived.”


Today more than ever, leadership is at a premium. One of my greatest learning’s in my career was a realization that you never really know people until you see them under pressure. Today’s environment for business is the ultimate pressure cooker. Being honest in your assessment about how well you fit, how well you can serve and who you really want to be when you grow up is an authenticity foundation that will actually enhance your career. The first step though might be to get off the crazy carousel. If it doesn’t come natural to you, leave it.