Are you like Alfred Dreyfus, ambitious but unable to progress in your job?

Are you like Alfred Dreyfus, ambitious but unable to progress in your job?

By Nick Gendler, Executive Career Coach

Alfred Dreyfus was a brilliant student of warfare and military tactics. He was ambitious and dedicated and he was immensely patriotic.

Against great competition he won a place at the prestigious École de Guerre where he was determined to pass out as the best in his class.

He didn't manage that.  He would have been third, an exceptional achievement under any circumstances, but for being marked down to a zero by one of his examiners.  The reason for this zero grade?  Not as simple as you may be thinking. Institutional anti-semitism almost certainly had a part to play, but it wasn't the whole story.

Although he was intelligent and highly motivated, Dreyfus lacked one important quality:  Côte D'amour; what we might call likability or the ability to fit into a group.

He lacked warmth as a person, could not do small talk, lacked empathy, had little sense of humour and possessed a dull, monotone voice.  As a result he was not deemed suitable by his superiors for the highest ranks in the armed forces because they felt he would not be liked by his colleagues or subordinates.

Côte d'amour is important for everyone at work and it is definitely something that can be worked on and improved, but it's not easy. Many don't even realise that they need to work on it and it is rarely pointed out in appraisals, partly because it's often hard to put your finger on why someone doesn't fit in - it's just a feeling you get about a person.

If you've ever wondered why you haven't managed to progress beyond a certain level in your career, or struggle to make a good impression at interviews, it may well be that you lack côte d'amour.

Nick Gendler, of Workjoy, is our recommended Career Coach.

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