Many salespeople think they are super heroes at work.

Should you be a hero at work?

Don Lee
Don Lee
Jul 21, 2018 · 4 min read

Don’t be fooled.

The following are true stories –

A saleswoman works 60 plus hours a week for a small tech company for ten years. The company goes out of business. Not only is she laid off, but she doesn’t receive any severance. No letter of recommendation. Goodbye.

A secretary, who works 40 hours a week, decides to work for free every Saturday in a struggling small community newspaper company. She does this for nearly five years. The company goes out of business, and she loses her job. No severance. Don’t let the door hit you on your way out.

A grant development manager at a 7-person nonprofit organization spends more than a year working tirelessly to obtain new grants and donations. In fact, she generates more revenue than her predecessor. But when she becomes pregnant and asks the board of directors for paid maternity leave, they string her along for six months. Eventually, they only offer her three weeks of paid maternity leave.

Angry and shocked by their proposal, she quits her job. The board of directors is stunned by her decision, but they do nothing to persuade her to return. Instead, they post an employment ad to fill her position.

What do all three of these women have in common? They are heroes. They went beyond the call of duty for their employer. But in the end, their employers screwed them over.

Superheroes make great children’s toys, but don’t be fooled into becoming one at work.

Which brings me to my question — should you be a hero at work?

Yes, of course, you should be professional. Yes, you should do the best job you can every day. And yes, show incentive by offering ideas and occasionally working late to complete urgent projects or close deals that could help your company.

But should you continually work overtime without any guarantee of advancement or financial gain?

For example, the saleswoman who worked 60 hours plus per week may have been better off attending networking events or expanding her contacts on LinkedIn rather than devoting all her time and energy to one employer.

The secretary who came to work every Saturday may have been better off using that time by taking courses to upgrade her skills and market herself better in the workplace.

And the grant development manager should have been more forceful in getting an agreement on the length of her paid maternity rather than drag out the process for six months.

Here’s the problem with being a hero at work — they are usually taken advantage of by their employers.

Some employers don’t give a damn about your hard work or devotion. Some are completely clueless about what you are doing. And some may care but they don’t have the financial means to award you.

Heroes are very common in the sales profession. You come in early. You work your ass off late at night. You sometimes skip lunch. You make call after call or do a string of online demos or meet clients. We do this because we want to earn a lot of money. That’s a given. But we also do it to gain recognition in hopes of advancing our careers at our jobs. There’s nothing wrong with that, but make sure you understand the ground rules and office politics at your position before trying to be a hero.

Being a hero is no guarantee for job security in cut-throat sales.

If you don’t, you could end up a burnt-out shell. Stunned and anxious, you end up wondering what happened when the office doors close because of a merger, reorg or acquisition that leaves you out in the cold. Or a new manager comes in, doesn’t like you, and decides to hire his friends to replace you and your team. Or the company suddenly tanks for financial reasons, and you don’t get paid when payday rolls around.

The signs are there, but you are so wrapped up with work that you fail to see them. You are so blinded trying to be the hero that you don’t understand reality until it smacks you in the face. By then, it’s too late. Now you must start finding a new job.

So rather than be a hero at work, why not be a hero to yourself? Focus on developing your professional brand that can translate into more lucrative and awarding career moves. At work, they may tell you that “it’s not about me, it’s about we” — i.e., work is a team effort. That’s true. But make sure you find a little “me time” for yourself.

Attend networking events. Take courses. Read books. Upgrade your skills. But don’t allow any employer to take advantage of you and treat you like dirt.

Heroes belong in comic books and movies. Not in the workplace.

This post was originally published on my blog, www.dononselling.com

If you like my post, please read my book — Jumpstart your Sales Career, Help for New Salespeople.

Don Lee

Written by

Don Lee

Sales professional, Writer. Blog: http://dononselling.com. Author: Jumpstart your Sales Career: Help for New Salespeople — https://amzn.to/3eXg0O4.

Sales and Marketing

Advice about Selling and Marketing

Don Lee

Written by

Don Lee

Sales professional, Writer. Blog: http://dononselling.com. Author: Jumpstart your Sales Career: Help for New Salespeople — https://amzn.to/3eXg0O4.

Sales and Marketing

Advice about Selling and Marketing

Medium is an open platform where 170 million readers come to find insightful and dynamic thinking. Here, expert and undiscovered voices alike dive into the heart of any topic and bring new ideas to the surface. Learn more

Follow the writers, publications, and topics that matter to you, and you’ll see them on your homepage and in your inbox. Explore

If you have a story to tell, knowledge to share, or a perspective to offer — welcome home. It’s easy and free to post your thinking on any topic. Write on Medium

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store