Ambition at work

Ambition at work: quality or defect?

Ambition at work can be a double-edged sword . The characteristic of an ambitious person is that, being aware of their work motivations , desires and goals, they have the ability to materialize them, overcoming challenges and challenges. 

In the professional field , ambitious people (as long as they have a healthy ambition) are very attractive profiles, since they have high performance and are usually very results-oriented, which naturally benefits the organization. 

Ambition can sometimes be a double-edged sword , it can already have negative connotations , but a priori it is a quality, since it is the engine that allows us to leave the comfort zone (the one in which we move comfortably and effortlessly ) and enter the magic zone (the one in which we find challenges that require effort on our part, but allow us to develop and obtain new achievements). 

Ambition at work connects with transformation , the ability to launch projects, take on challenges and evolve (either personally or professionally). In fact, it has very positive dimensions, on the one hand it speaks of a strong self-esteem since, regardless of whether doubts arise in the process we are going through, when there is ambition there is also a trace of confidence in oneself and one’s abilities, and the person can exploit its full potential. On the other hand, ambitious people have the ability to hold an overview that allows them to see what they are doing, where they want to go, the obstacles and how to overcome them. 

As with many qualities, what can turn virtue into a defect is measure. An ambition is the key, when it is moderate, to achieve the objectives and it is one of the essential ingredients of success, but those who take it to the extreme and who are only moved by ambition, it can become a defect, since if we do not subject it to a critical and ethical judgment it can collide with the well-being of other people. This would be the case of people who are never satisfied with what they get, who are capable of harming others trying to achieve their goals and professional success, or who do not feel ashamed to lie or deceive other people if necessary. In this case, without a doubt, ambition becomes a harmful trait, especially within the business context, in which excessive ambition on the part of one person can cause great damage to the team and therefore to the organization as a whole. . 

Ambition at work as a quality demanded in companies

In the search for talent, there are companies that try to incorporate ambitious people into their ranks in a specific way. This is a strategic approach in which we start from the basis of a corporate culture in which ambition plays an important role. Logically, the way to ensure that a company maintains an ambitious execution is for the people who make it up to share that value. 

We are talking about companies that have growth as their constant objective , that want to increase their success, constantly try to improve their processes and want to have a positive social and environmental impact. And that is why they look for this job ambition in people.

Non-conformist, innovative, proactive, connected people with a global vision who also have good adaptability and little or no resistance to change will fit into this profile. Given that we are talking about a healthy ambition, unity, respect and cooperation must prevail in a way that guarantees teamwork, productivity and a healthy work environment. 

Of course, not all the members of the organization have to fit this profile, since not all the activities that are carried out in an organization as a whole require it, but it will be necessary in those more strategic positions that determine the direction of the company. 

How to manage ambition at work

As we stated before, ambition at work is a quality , but if we do not manage it correctly it can become toxic. Here’s how to manage ambition so it’s a positive value: 

  • Commitment. Once a goal is set, we commit to it by avoiding dispersions, managing fear and doubts (which could grip us) and being constant. 
  • Explore personal learning capacity. Ambition leads us to take on challenges and tackle situations for which we often feel that we were not prepared. If we are in a position to do so, it is because we are trained to do so, but we must understand that it is not a marked path, but a path that we are opening and in which we are going to experience learning. 
  • Creative and calm mind. Maintaining a creative mind will allow us to find new solutions, and a calm mind will help us see further and promote serendipity . Ambition has a lot to do with open-mindedness (which is only possible when we are calm and have the situation under control), and this is always reinforced by creativity. 
  • Gratitude. It is important to understand that we do not achieve things alone. On many occasions the sum of small contributions from other people has contributed to the final result and, although we have been responsible for the bulk of the work, it is important to let ourselves be helped and recognize that of others as a gesture of humility and recognition. 
  • Cultivate a climate of trust. Creating an environment where others feel safe with us and do not see our ambition as a threat is essential. Only in this way will we speak of a healthy ambition, when our environment recognizes it as something positive that will also help motivate them. 
  • Respect and professional ethics. These are lines that should never be crossed when we talk about ambition, otherwise we will have to identify it as toxic ambition. 

Based on all of the above, it is interesting to redefine the concept of ambition and move it away from selfish and negative connotations. By properly understanding the limits and the way in which ambition should fit within any company, we can adjust the way we approach it so that it is a value that it contributes to the organization and the rest of the team. 


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