I had an eye opening experience this week that showed to me the importance of ALWAYS be impressing people with your work. We tend to focus a lot of time impressing your direct manager and immediate leadership, but you really never know when someone else could very impactful.
In a previous role I met a guy who I really liked. He worked in another region and had zero direct connection to impacting my career......at the time. 3 years later he had a critical part in influencing a key leader to trust and choose me for an important role. There was ZERO way I could have predicted this turn of events.
The most important thing was that I worked my hardest to help him even though it didn't seem like he would be an important connection for me. My attitude is to work my hardest and do my best ALWAYS. Not just for my manager. But for everyone I come in contact with.
I see others who like to work only when it serves them best with their leadership. These people are incredibly annoying. They don't help anyone, but are the most vocal in meetings to try to come across like THE expert. In reality people don't like working with them and would run as fast as they could from them if they could. I have actually seen this strategy of throwing others under the bus and only promoting yourself work. It only works for a short period though.
It can get you a promotion. It can impress some people. Things eventually catch up with them though. Word gets out that they are terrible to work with. People start leaving their team. Culture starts declining. When it's clear the person actually isn't good, then it's all over. The individual is stuck and they have to leave.
There is a good book called Infinite Game by Simon Sinek. It talks about how you need an attitude that this game doesn't end. If the game doesn't end, then you need to be good at all times. You need to treat people well at all times. You need to work hard at all times. Too many people think of it as a finite game and have a short term mentality on everything they do.
When I heard this week how the person I helped 3+ years ago had an impact on my career today I just smiled. That's what it's all about. Be a good person. Help others. Work hard. If you do that and you're patient, then things start coming together.