How to achieve your ambitions without alienating your colleagues

There is nothing wrong with being ambitious. This is the characterstic which leads to us achieving our goals. However, the in-built desire for personal achievement can cause friction with colleagues. Here's how to put out the fires of jealousy, and get where you want to in your career.

by Jo Ellen Grzyb
Last Updated: 27 Apr 2016

Ambition is often perceived as a negative characteristic, and it's true that the ruthless pursuit of your goals can be detrimental to others. But there is a way to walk the fine line between your determination to succeed and be accepted by your peers.

Think about your role models - they can be fictional or even non-fictional. Surprisingly, many people say that they do not have any. Does this stem from a lack of imagination? Or do people just not want to openly admit they have received help, support or inspiration from others, as they see this as a sign of weakness? Recognising and accepting that you have been shaped and influenced by others not only helps you to work out what you want from your career - and indeed life. It can also help you to communicate the drivers behind your ambition to colleagues.

It's also important to accept that other people's reactions to your ambition or success are sometimes beyond your control. Many people find themselves concealing the positive feedback they receive from tutors, managers or team members because they automatically assume peers would be resentful. Hiding one's light under a bushel, as the old saying goes. But in reality, you are only shielding yourself from negative reactions; reactions that may not be there at all.

This pattern is one that is very common amongst women, who are often unable to put aside their nurturing feelings and desire to protect those around them. Instead of being self deprecating and overly modest, it wis better to be honest and transparent with peers. By minimising and hiding aspirations and pride in your achievements, you actually made life harder for yourself and your goals a little more arduous to reach.

It is when you are able to focus and ask yourself, 'What am I doing with my life?', and 'What am I afraid of?' that you can truly acknowledge and channel your ambition in a fruitful way. And this needn’t be to the detriment of our peers; an ambitious person can be inspiring, creative and energising. And if you also dedicate yourself to supporting the ambitions of others, alongside your own, you will find the achievement of your goals much more rewarding.

Jo Ellen Grzyb is co-founder and director of training consultancy Impact Factory

Find this article useful?

Get more great articles like this in your inbox every lunchtime

When spying on your staff backfires

As Barclays' recently-scrapped tracking software shows, snooping on your colleagues is never a good idea....

A CEO’s guide to smart decision-making

You spend enough time doing it, but have you ever thought about how you do...

What Tinder can teach you about recruitment

How to make sure top talent swipes right on your business.

An Orwellian nightmare for mice: Pest control in the digital age

Case study: Rentokil’s smart mouse traps use real-time surveillance, transforming the company’s service offer.

Public failure can be the best thing that happens to you

But too often businesses stigmatise it.

Andrew Strauss: Leadership lessons from an international cricket captain

"It's more important to make the decision right than make the right decision."