Management and Personal Ambition

Below is an excerpt on management and personal ambition from “Finding Flow” by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.

“Keith is one example of many managers who spend years desperately trying to impress their superiors for a promotion. To increase his competitive advantage Keith hoarded all the credit he could for his accomplishments. But, despite all his efforts he was continuously passed over for important promotions.

“Finally Keith resigned himself to having reached the ceiling of his career, and decided to find rewards elsewhere. He spent more time with his family, took up a hobby, and became involved in community activities. Because he was no longer struggling hard to impress, his behavior became more relaxed, less selfish, and more objective. In fact, he began to act more like a leader whose personal agenda came second to that of the company.

“Now his managers were impressed. This is the person they wanted at the helm. Keith was promoted soon after he had let go of his personal ambition.

“This case is by no means rare: To be trusted in a position of leadership, one must advance goals of others as well as one’s own.”