Wunmi Adelusi: The Power of Being Behind The Scenes in the Workplace

Wunmi Adelusi: The Power of Being Behind The Scenes in the Workplace
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“There is power in being behind the scenes, in learning how decisions are made, how to navigate those rooms, those conversations” – Gugu Mbatha-Raw in the New York Times.

I saw the above quote recently, and it resonated with me on different levels, particularly as I found it relatable. I recall a video of Carla Harris I watched a while ago that further illustrates the power of being behind the scenes. In that video, Carla talked of how her career ‘aha moment’ came from being present at a ’roundtable’: the year-end evaluation process for staff. The roundtable holds behind closed doors and for Carla, the discussions at the roundtable gave her privy information about the criteria for the promotion. It was then she realised performance alone was not sufficient to get promoted, but instead, having someone (a sponsor) speak for you behind closed doors in addition to performance was what got people promoted. This singular experience opened Carla early on in her career to the idea of sponsorship, which she has been able to leverage for career acceleration.

In the last 3 years, I have had the opportunity to work behind the scenes on different projects within and outside my organisationBeing in these rooms for me has been eye-opening in several ways and given me firsthand experience on how decisions are made and recognising the essential skills for effective board leadership. 

Indeed, being behind the scenes builds you. Asides from making conscious efforts to implement the learnings, your brain subconsciously gets accustomed to certain do’s and don’ts that affect your demeanour altogether. There is no gainsaying that you become what you behold. There is a moulding your exposure from behind the scenes does to you without seeking your permission. Take it seriously!

Being part of the making of any project, vision, or product is an experience worth holding dear. For a 9 to 5er, being behind the scenes may require you to do beyond your job description as roles sometimes flow into each other. Let us discuss in detail some benefits of witnessing ‘the making’ of any project.

You get to value the process

Being behind the scenes helps you appreciate the process of a thing without taking the outcome for granted. Why is valuing process important? It helps to be kinder and appreciative to oneself and others, recognising that we all are humans on a journey. With ‘the making’, you realise that things work because people put in the work. 

The experience is a differentiator

You see, being behind the scenes always gives you an edge to having a bird’s eye of things – seeing things from both a user and producer perspective, which in turn makes you more solution-oriented and a problem solver. Everyone does not have access to ‘the making’, so treasure that experience because when the shoves are down, and everyone in the room has the same skill, the skills you have harnessed from being behind the scenes differentiates you from the pack.

Preparation

One of the exciting things about being behind the scenes is that it gives you the platform to prepare. Someone once said, “don’t be afraid to be backstage, be afraid of not rehearsing while there.” For finance professionals like myself, being behind backstage is almost like a crash MBA course sometimes. You get to learn everything there. But you must first give yourself to it and immerse yourself in it.

Access to Invaluable Network

The behind-the-scenes is often made of people from diverse backgrounds with different skillset. Like in the movies, you have the cameraman, director, post-production manager, and costume manager, and the list is endless. You are likely to need and learn from all these people as you progress, so keep them close as, in most cases, they end up being part of your network. In my case, I have gained sponsors from working behind the scenes.

Tell me, have you been behind the scenes of a product or project before? How did it make you feel? What were the things you learned?



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