The Point: If you’re an achiever in your career, your title not only represents what you do BUT your accomplishments as well. So what happens if you’re at an organization that elects to water-down or dilute titles so that everyone appears to be harmonious/at the same level operating as an entire team? In this post we’ll examine the leadership challenge of title dilution and what you can do to elevate yourself from mediocrity as you escalate the org chart on your career path… Enjoy!
The Elevator to the Top!
Every once in a while I find myself in a situation that bears repeating. Case in point this past week in an elevator riding to the top floor to spend some time with a client. Enter onto the elevator two young women also traveling to the top floor. Their conversation could be captured as follows:
How are things going for you over at Company XYZ?
They’re going fine, but I’m so concerned about our policy of title dilution. While I’ve never been concerned for me, or my abilities to achieve, the fact that we dilute company titles makes me feel like I’m not being recognized for my achievements. I mean, I know I could go over to Company ABC and make more money, but I’m not certain they’d even give me an interview because it looks like I do the work of an entry-level employee. I’m concerned…
We’re All One Team, Right?
Title Dilution is the concept that all members of a team are provided with equivalent titles. Leaders and Team Leaders not only sit/work together with their teams, but they all have the same title to boot! So what if you work for an organization that chooses to similarly title dilute? How will you be recognized? What will you do to not only stand apart from the team crowd, but remain a valued member of the team?
While you may not have to worry about title dilution as you ride the career elevator in your current organization, I see a trend of more and more organizations wanting to equate equals as part of the team as opposed to different (or same as but different).
3 Tips for Title Dilution
So what is the career savvy achiever to do so as to avoid title dilution? I provide the following Three Tips to overcome title dilution regardless of where you are at on your career path journey:
Tip #3 – To Thine Own Self Be True
Shakespeare spoke of a clever conversation between a father and son regarding escalating the org chart (or as good as career advice could be provided back in his day). It all starts with knowing who you are and what’s important to you… Here’s the passage from Hamlet (Act 1, scene 3, 78–82):
This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.
Farewell, my blessing season this in thee!
Most humbly do I take my leave, my lord.
Tip #2 – Fish Determination
Are you a BIG fish in a little pond, or a little fish in a BIG pond (or does pond size matter?) I meet with a lot of leaders that either struggle or excel depending on the situation that they find themselves. Know this much about yourself: You probably have greater comfort in one setting versus another. With that in mind, identify what your best setting is and look to maximize your impact.
Tip #1 – GOALS
If you don’t have goals, you’re either (A) dreaming or (B) letting someone else determine your fate/destiny/outcome. If titles are important to you (either for ego purposes, marketing your brand, or the perception of greater income – either real or imagined) then an organization that dilutes the titles of achievers may or may not be the right place for you.
In this passage we’ve taken a look at the leadership challenge of title dilution and presented three tips. Important to note that while careers aren’t built/realized overnight, they can come unwound in a relatively short time period. Identifying who you are (and what’s important to you), where you are at, and a plan for success should assist you in overcoming dilution moments in your career regardless of whether you are just starting your journey, midway, or looking for a way to “ride off into the sunset” as you leave your legacy for others to marvel at.