In a corporate job, image is everything. Sometimes, image even trumps performance, making it ever so more important for those who perform well to pay equal or more attention to the perceptions that they create among their circles of influence.
This article is written especially for those who operate under the belief that one should get what they deserve in the corporate world. It does not work that way: What they need to realize is that one gets what they knowingly create and manage.
So, how does one manage their image and project that all important executive message in everything that they do? Well, the good news is that if you have already mastered the art of performing functionally well in your job, managing your image, perceptions, and presence are not that hard. You have already mastered that part that only 14% know how to do well. A recent survey of nearly 90,000 US professionals by Towers Perrin, a professional services firm that helps clients improve business performance, concluded that only 14% of the employees are fully engaged in their work! This means that 86% rely on politics, influence, and skullduggery to get to where they want to go!
The following prescription is offered as way for professionals to create and build their executive image:
1.) Look at your own career momentum and assess how far it will take you and how soon. Identify roadblocks within your own company and how you can overcome them, with performance, relationships, and finesse.
2.) If you feel stagnant in your career, identify opportunities that are not apparent (there are always plenty of them around!) and make a case for getting them assigned to you. This shows initiative. Such an accomplishment will allow you to use one of the most compelling verbs on a resume: Initiated!
3.) Always stay focused on your accomplishments and not just your performance. You may perform well, but if you are not able to deliver monetized accomplishments your impact in an organization is marginalized. People are mystified by how to monetize what you do. Make some assumptions and get agreements with your boss to develop a way to monetize what you do. It is never that hard once you come to some agreement about this with your boss.
A rough rule of thumb is that each hour saved gets multiplied by the respective hourly rate and then multiplied by three to arrive at the monetized value to the company. A secretary recently spent 10 hours setting up an automated calendar, which saved a group of 40 engineers one hour per week each. So, for spending $750 of the company’s money, she freed-up one engineer for the company, saving it $450,000 annually!
4.) Keep a running track of your accomplishments and publicly announce them taking credit and giving, where it is due. You must garner support of those who can help you succeed. You cannot do this alone.
5.) Do not assume any thing. Ask
6.) Look and act powerful. Be confident in every thing that you do.
7.) Learn how to speak up at important meetings and learn how to be an effective and persuasive presenter, an all-important executive trait!
8.) Surround yourself with positive and powerful people and do not engage in petty gossip.
9.) In today’s virtual workplace, where many work from remote areas virtually, lacking visibility, make sure that you create a virtual presence by exchanging important memos, success stories and by emailing others about those who helped you succeed. By recognizing someone publicly you, in turn, are seen as a leader who rises about petty politics.
10.) Send a message recognizing someone who did a great job. Send copies of this message to higher-ups. Recognizing someone publicly has an effect of putting yourself above them.
11.) Once you cross the mid-management threshold, it is less about your technical skills and more about the relationships and alliances you build. Many with highly technical backgrounds fail to recognize this. Try to understand different agendas and see how you can collaborate to build consensus that serves the company’s customers.
12.) Make a habit of communicating with higher-up that you normally do not work with to make them become aware of who you are. Participate in special projects and volunteer activities where you get to work with executives several levels above where you are.
13.) Do not let the levels at which your superiors operate intimidate you and let your cower in fear because of their status. If you are seen as one who easily rubs shoulders with higher-ups your chances of being seen as one of them are greatly amplified.
14.) Look at the industry trends and see if you are keeping up with those trends in your current job or if you need to move to another area of responsibility within your own company. Do not let your false sense of loyalty to your employer or boss get in the way of your own welfare.
15.) If you identify an outside opportunity and find that you lack certain qualifications to jump, use your existing job to seek the assignments that get you the needed expertise and then prepare yourself for the move. Such opportunities are always out there. Write your resume in advance and seek out those assignments. In fact, your advance resume is to chart out your career track and then seek assignments to make it happen. This now puts you in the driver’s seat.
16.) If your company is in turmoil, it affords unprecedented opportunities for personal development and growth. At such times many rich opportunities are there just for the asking. Seek out tough assignments and make sure that you package them on your resume appropriately. There is nothing more compelling about a candidate whose leadership story narrates how things were hopeless, how they were determined to make them otherwise, and succeeded.
17.) Prepare a forward-looking resume and show your value in undeniable ways. A forward-looking resume articulates your value proposition for tomorrow based on your genius (Unique Skills) and leverages your “brand.” An unbranded resume that is backward looking (a Jurassic Resume) is not worth its salt.
18.) If you are removed from dealings with customers, find a reason to initiate a dialog and discover what everyone else has missed. If asked correctly, customers love to talk about what they are missing, and if your company can deliver that you become a hero. Imagine how great this bullet will look on your résumé.
19.) If you wish to seek a higher position, start behaving as if you already have attained it and influence those around you to respond to your leadership. Once you are seen as the putative candidate for that job by those around you, getting the title merely becomes a formality.
20.) Seek mentorship from higher ups. Provide mentoring to those below you.
21.) Most professionals do not get what they seek is because they do not clearly know what they want. Be clear about your objective and do not hesitate to publicly state them.