The proverb “the tallest blade of grass is the first to be cut” dates back as far as 2500 BC., and it is often mentioned directly or indirectly by Black leaders today as a reason for not taking that next step upwards to be the CEO. Getting to a pre-CEO senior position in a big company is quite an achievement.
Perhaps you are the first in your family or even your community to rise to that high of a role. You feel safe, secure, and respected in your role. You might also know the adage, “pigs get fed, hogs get slaughtered.” So, you don’t want to push too hard as you should be thankful for where you are. Therefore, you avoid taking the steps necessary in your company to get to be CEO; you don’t look at other companies where you could be CEO or take the risk to start your own company.
The reality is that you have just as high a chance of being let go in your current role if a new CEO joins your company and wants to put his or her own people in your coveted position. Wouldn’t you rather control your own destiny? Be the person who makes the decisions that can change your company and potentially make a positive impact on so many. We need more Black business leaders to step up to the challenge; do what is necessary to put yourself in a position to be chosen to be CEO. If that means changing jobs or starting your own company to achieve this, so be it. If it means getting a coach to help you see your path and help guide you down the path, you should do it. Aim high and aim big. You may not ever get there, but you will likely get a lot higher than if you do not aim at all and settle for what is given to you. The risk for you is not achieving your full potential. You have little chance of breaking through the ceiling if you do not make the conscious decision to pound away at it.