The famous Roman poet Virgil once said, “Fortune favors the bold.” Richard Branson, famous English business magnate behind Virgin Airlines has said something similar, and that is “Opportunity favors the bold.” According to Branson, this concept is what helped shape the Virgin Brand story.
But what does it mean to be bold?
I think it means a few different things. To be bold means:
- To be the best version of yourself, no matter what …
- To take chances and do what is right…
- Having the willingness to act outside of your comfort zone…
But how many of us act bold in our careers? If we’re honest, many of us settle for positions that simply do not fit our skills or passions. Why is this?
Because we’re scared of burning bridges. We’re scared to make a move forward without having that safety net behind us should things not work out the way we planned.
And so we stay on in our unfulfilled positions, hoping things will get better or a new opportunity will reveal itself.
But does waiting work? What does waiting do really? Do things get better? Is holding onto that precious bridge worth it?
Fear of the Unknown – Public Enemy Number 1!
I get it, believe me. Taking chances and making changes… that’s scary stuff. Any rational human being will want to stay safe. I mean since we are kids we are taught to be careful, be safe… then suddenly we have careers and NOW we’re supposed to NOT play it safe?!
I was recently talking to a colleague of mine who is miserable in her current position but is too scared to leave because of the fear of “burning a bridge”. She has a fear of the unknown and believes that she can wait it out and just be “happy” collecting those paychecks every month.
Leaps of faith are scary, that’s why they’re called leaps of faith and not leaps of absolute certainty. And that’s also why team leaders need to help team members be bold and take action to advance their career.
As a leader, you want your team members to be happy and fulfilled. Disgruntled, bored, or frustrated personalities can wreak havoc on productivity and bring your entire department down.
I have coached many leaders who have found themselves at a loss when they have employees experiencing unhappiness in their positions. Leaders, you’ve got to be a bridge for your employees. Help them be bold and make decisions that are good for everyone.
Here are some tips I would like to share with you.
- Be aware when employees are not feeling fulfilled in their role. Explore the root of the unhappiness and be open to feedback.
- Assist employees when they are ready to move on. Encourage the employee to job search and provide guidance and support with their process.
- Don’t take it personal. You have a responsibility to support your employees as you would your students. A burnt bridge is not something that employees should be scared of; they should feel that you are assisting them across the bridge to their next opportunity or clearing what is in the way from them feeling fulfilled currently.
“Education is all a matter of building bridges.”
~ Ralph Ellison
In higher education, it is important that we support the students and each other. Leaders, support your employees by building a bridge to their greatest selves and achievements.
Debra Griffith is an Associate Vice President at San Jose State University| Trainer Facilitator | Strategist | Key Note Speaker | Coach