The “me” decade has fostered many ambitions, and many of them aren’t the right kind for an Enterprise of any size or scale. That’s why I loved this post by Ben.
Here’s how you spot those with the “me” disease:
People who view the world through the me prism might describe a prior company’s failure in an interview as follows: “My last job was my e-commerce play. I felt that it was important to round out my resume.” Note the use of “my” to personalize the company in a way that it’s unlikely that anyone else at the company would agree with. In fact, the other employees in the company might even be offended by this usage. People with the right kind of ambition would not likely use the word “play” to describe their effort to work as a team to build something substantial. Finally, people who use the “me” prism find it natural and obvious to speak in terms of “building out my resume” while people who use the “team” prism find such phrases to be somewhat uncomfortable and awkward, because they clearly indicate an individual goal which is separate from the team goal.
On the other hand, people who view the world purely through the team prism will very seldom use the words “I” or “me” even when answering questions about their accomplishments. Even in an interview, they will deflect credit to others on their previous team. They will tend to be far more interested in how your company will win than how they will be compensated or what their career path will be. When asked about a previously failed company, they will generally feel such great responsibility that they will describe in detail their own misjudgments and bad decisions.
Too often people confuse doing what is right for them with what is right for their team and the business. They confuse building a business with building a resume. They confuse the business’ agenda with their agenda. And the result is inevitably negative. As Ben says, while it may work to have individual employees who optimize for their own careers, counting on senior managers to do all the right things for all the wrong reasons is a dangerous idea.