I am a 24-year-old woman from one of the most rural places East of the Mississippi, trying to make my way in one of the most unforgiving professions at one of the most difficult times in recent history. I, who was named Miss Peach by the opposing basketball teams in high school because I always helped their players up, displaying an amount of wisdom appropriate to my years, decided to specialize in business reporting. I now work in one of the most cutthroat fields, at one of the fastest, most competitive news organizations and for one of the most rapid-fire, go-with-your-gut, take-no-prisoners teams.
In short, I’m a fish so far out of water, I’ve evolved.
It is in this atmosphere that I had a small revelation. (A small one, proportionate to the amount of my brain cells that fire on all cylinders. Some have even taken to firing on trapezoids. Or each other.) The revelation came after I read a press release that detailed a CEO’s salary. It was impressive. I glumly remarked to my team, “Man, I should have been a CEO.” Someone responded, “I bet you will be.”
Smoothly sidling past the idea that someone fewer than five years out of college should be lamenting her lost career choices, I was surprised by the confidence shown by my coworker. He thought I had the potential to be in charge of a whole company.
And that’s when I realized that’s exactly what I want to do. (Along with the bakery and humor columns and small-town tour playing ragtime piano, of course.) I want to be in charge of something.
The concept of building a career is fairly new to me and that’s not just because I’ve never done it before. I’ve existed at my current job for exactly one year tomorrow, and done it happily (enough) because I worked on being the best headliner I could. Now that I’ve decided I want to lead… something… I have to make some decisions based on their effect on my future. I don’t think I have the éclat (or the estomago, to make this a three-language sentence) to really play that game, but it’s something to bear in mind.
Roger Altman, former deputy Treasury secretary and chairman of Evercore Partners said, “Hyper-competitiveness is not an unalloyed good.” I agree with him. (And it’s not an un-alkali-ed good either.) My style of management — which orbits around teamness to the utmost — clangs a little against the iron bars of today’s capitalist competition. I vote in favor of loyalty, honesty, fairness, transparency. It hurts my feelings when coworkers have goals like individual success or personal wealth on higher pedestals.
But perhaps these antiquated notions of being a team are just other items to add to my list of ways I’m dissimilar from my peers. And maybe that‘s why I’d make great management.