Top Performers Never Work “For” A Company

I recently got asked:

What’s the one key difference you see in top performers
compared to the rest of the workforce?

My answer: Top performers never see themselves as working “for” a company. They believe it’s better to work “with” a company.

Do you know the difference?

When we believe we work “for” a company, we give up control. They set the rules and we blindly follow them. They plan the future and we obediently execute the plan. They are the master and we are the ____(insert whatever you want). In short, we place a set of golden handcuffs on and silently suffer.

But J.T., if I stand up for myself, I’ll get canned.

I’m sure many of you read the above and immediately fear standing up for yourself will get you in trouble. Yes, if you decide to be aggressive and demand your employer make changes or else, you’ll most likely be shown to the door. That’s not what I’m suggesting. It’s about changing the way we see, and subsequently, work “with” the employer. The fact is, they don’t think they owe us anything. Why? We’ve been compensated for what we agreed to as the working arrangement. If we want to change the results, we need to change the approach.

Professional Emancipation = The Secret to Being a Top Performer at Work

Top performers don’t view themselves as employees. They don’t give up perceived control over their destiny. They see the employer as a means to an end – a client they want to work “with” as a way to create a win-win scenario. They patiently but persistently negotiate the terms until they feel there’s an equitable arrangement where both sides profit. And, when the situation changes (which eventually, it always does), and they start to feel like the agreement is out of balance, they proactively and positively explore ways to bring it back to equality. They plan their own futures and use the work they do with the employer to help them further their ambitions. They recognize they are their own boss and the employer is a consumer – an entity they must please to stay in business, but one that can be replaced, or even fired, as long as they keep their business relevant and in-demand.

I realize that is easier said than done. But please remember, I was asked about top performers – and in my experience, that’s what it takes.

So, which would you rather? Work “for” or “with” a company?

I believe we need employers and they need us. I believe we can free ourselves of The Golden Handcuff Effect and partner with employers to do great things. But most importantly, I believe it begins with deciding to stop working “for” a company and start working “with” them.

What do you think?


One response to this post.

  1. Posted by Mike on April 16, 2013 at 8:43 pm

    I agree wholeheartedly with your post. To lead is to have this understanding of the way the world should work and use the vision in your head to bring it about. Companies – large and small, NEED leaders to adopt vision and to effect change that’s about making the company better. Accepting the company rules is usually a sure way to accept the company’s loss of appetite or ambition.


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