Do you have my back? In our dog-eat-dog world it is good to know someone is watching out for you. Think of it as having a sponsor or ambassador. It is someone who knows and believes in you. It is someone who will speak up for your best interests. It is a relationship built on trust.
Relationships of trust are imperative to the human condition. As relational beings, we thrive on community. Ideally, it is a community of give and take and where trust reigns supreme. It is a place where someone is looking out for your best interests.
Even the most isolated and introverted person needs to receive recognition, support, and acknowledgement. Without these components, you will not survive in your existing community for long.
Consider the community in which you work. This community represents people you spend more time with than your own family, yet they are not people you necessarily choose. You can do everything right to be an excellent employee, but if you do not have someone in the decision making ranks above you who looking out for your best interest, you could find yourself without a job.
It is prudent to identify and invest in those who are in a position to be your advocate. When times get difficult, you have a better chance of having your interests represented in a timely manner. Think of them as a sponsor or ambassador. They promote your cause in a conversation you are not privy to or in a meeting you are not invited to attend. They become your voice and your best interest becomes their cause.
If you lead or manage other people, I believe you have a duty to advocate for them. A lack of willingness on your part may indicate a problem. The problem may be with you. Self-centered leaders often neglect their followers. It only takes a minimally perceptive person to identify true allegiances. If you are not seen as a person who watches the backs of your employees, you should not expect their personal loyalty. Lack of trust always limits devotion to relationships.
Investing in subordinates can also be risky business as you can work yourself out of a job. Personally, I think this is a badge of honor. You are a person who creates opportunity for others. It the right environment, this can improve your own position. Helping other people and maintaining superior performance is the mark of an “A” player. This makes it easy for your superiors to advocate for you, especially since your results will speak for itself.
Whether you are investing in someone who you hope watches out for you, or if you seek to be a better ambassador of others, you should consider the following:
- Mutual Respect: Respect others while respecting yourself. If you speak down to others or deprecate your own character, you are highlighting all the negative aspects that give people reasons not to support you.
- Reciprocal Communication: Communication is a give and take activity. You must listen to what is being said and share what is pertinent. Be sure your conversations are on the same path.
- Consistent Message: Your public message must be the same for all people. If one person gets the hint that they are not getting all the facts other people are getting, you will not gain their full support.
- Take Risks: The quickest way to identify who is advocating for your cause is to witness someone taking a risk for you. In return, consider the amount of risk you are willing to take for someone else.
- Follow Through: If you create an expectation, fulfill it. Broken promises create broken trust. All of our best intentions can never make up for the reality of an unmet expectation.
We are meant to live in community, not isolation. When we work together, we will accomplish greater things. Some of the biggest problems and challenges we face require the partnership, sponsorship, and advocacy of others. Loneliness is a difficult place to live when facing difficult times. Ask yourself who has your back and make sure you look out for the best interest of those who contribute to your success.
Question? How do you benefit from others who consistently watch out for your best interests?