Learn how to exceed among exceeders.You see, others are working just as hard as you with goals and dreams of success just like you. If you want to be über-marketable and have a potent impact, while staying ahead of hyper competitive colleagues — not only in your own company but also outside of it — you have to set yourself apart from every other overachiever to whom you compete.People who excel always do things different and better. Why? That’s how your boss chooses among comparably talented people to promote. When all candidates look good on paper, this is what recruiters look for.Though most people like to believe they are singular, unique, and one-of-a kind in their assignment, few are. Across the world we are more similar than dissimilar. Yet, as fate would have it, that is exactly what your boss is looking for – someone singular who outshines the rest.You see, right now, in private conversations in secret sessions, behind closed and locked doors with shades drawn (both online and offline), management muckity-mucks sitting in high back leather chairs are thinking hard about you and a smattering of your competition. One person is being enthusiastically singled out with the confirmatory statement of, “He’s different.” Someone asks, “What do you mean?” and the muckity-muck answers, “He fits in but he stands out from the rest, too. He does more, gets more out of others, knows more, cares more, and is more….”Those few words carry significant ramifications in your work life and they usurp the university you attended, companies you’ve worked for, titles you’ve held, and any other personal or professional pedigree attached to you.Not everyone is going to be able to move up. They are scrutinizing your skills and talent; performance and results; the continuous competitive advantage you furnish the organization; and your effect on others.You want to be the one to “echo beyond the room,” meaning keep the conversation going about you after you’ve left.As one female friend put it, “The often quoted Coco Chanel said it well, ‘In order to be irreplaceable one must always be different.’”There is a lot you can’t control in life, but there is one area you can exert more echo in — and that is what my book The CEO Difference is about. To help you: Find what differentiates you. Do regular things in a different way. (e.g. self-confidence, trustworthiness, optimism, presence, passion, decision making, communication, risk-taking, and influencing others) Do different things than your competitors… all to add value as you compete.If you take the position that all you want to do is to hang onto your job, you won’t be in the game long. You cannot turn in average, mediocre, lackluster results at any stage or you will be racing to catch up forever. You have to fight extra hard, kick and scratch to more-than-measure up; climb, crawl and leap to move up.-DebraP.S. If you have comments or questions, please feel free to contact me.
As they say, clothes don’t make the man but they do make a difference. Of course, there is the argument that clothes do make the man because naked people have little influence in our society. Quite frankly, clothes are the least important part of your physical presence, but they are part of it. Fortunately, they are the easiest to do something about. A basic objective when you view clothes is to “wear your performance.” That’s why people dress extra spiffy for job interviews. If you do well, you should look like you do. Business, as all of life, is based on perception. If you look like a leader in your dress and demeanor even before you are, people will perceive you as such sooner. The acceptance of business casual dress does not mean it’s acceptable to be casual in comportment. "Leaders reflect a confidence and it shows in their faces, the way they walk and the way they dress," says Ted Wright, CEO, The Aslan Group. "They usually understand the ‘costume thing.’ To say all leaders are great dressers would be incorrect, but they do look like they are naturally fitted into the gear they are wearing for whatever and wherever the event or forum. They can be tall or short, slim or round, yet they are 95 percent of the time in tune with the ‘what’ that they are communicating by what they wear and how they wear it. Leaders look like they are in charge, as a rule. If you care about the little things such as what you wear, you probably care about a lot of other little and big things as well. A leader usually looks imposing. Even Gandhi in his special way commanded the attention by the way he dressed." To make the clothes issue simpler: Select a dominant color: black, navy, tan, gray, brown, and buy the best quality and style that you can in that color in every piece of clothing and accessory. You get your wardrobe pulled together quicker and can travel easier with one color. Consistency in dress implies consistency in behavior. You can keep one color from being boring with your selection of ties, shirts, jewelry, scarves, and so on. Rotate the old out. Just as you adopt new business trends, adopt (within reason) fashion changes. For example, if ties/lapels are narrow, go with narrow; don’t stay with wide. You don’t have to be on the cutting edge, but you don’t want to look dated either. One CEO I know buys a new pair of shoes and immediately gives away an old pair. He does the same with shirts, jackets, slacks, and so on. Nothing new goes into his closet without something old coming out. Unless everything fits perfectly, regularly have your clothes tailored to fit you. If you gain or lose weight, it’s cheaper than a new wardrobe – and it’s a necessity for your appearance. You should dress the way you want those around you to dress, since subordinates will tend to emulate the leader’s attire. Then turn it up a notch, making your dress just a hair better to meet the image people have of a leader. When attending a special event, research the expected dress in advance. Find out what’s typical, and choose your attire accordingly. Dressy clothes aren’t just for special occasions but to make an occasion special. Even if you are simply presenting a plaque at lunch with three colleagues, your attire should still befit the accomplishment. If casual is the norm at your office, keep a “dress up” outfit stored there for emergency situations. Have a complete “might need” outfit set aside and marked for your administrative assistant or significant other to ship overnight to any location when needed. A final word on clothes: It’s more important how you wear them than what you wear. Standing tall and straight makes any type of clothes look better because they hang better on your body. Despite my emphasis on being aware of your own attire, don’t be judgmental toward others. Don’t give the suited person preference, respect, or attention over the casually dressed person. Both get the same treatment as in everything in this book. Besides, you never know who has the most influence in what you’re trying to do. -Debra P.S. If you have comments or questions, please feel free to contact me. Photo: Simon Fraser University
Be as willing to respond to questions as you are willing to ask them. If you hesitate to answer, people think you aren’t cooperative, don’t know the answer, don’t know what you’re doing, or that you lack confidence. You might even be viewed as acting arrogant and superior in your non-response. Choose your words and tone carefully to hit the right degree of clarity. Listen to what the question is. Keep a “pass the salt” tone of voice with no hidden agenda emotion. Maintain a relaxed facial expression. Attentively lean forward to answer the questions simply, concisely, truthfully, and targeted to the audience. Follow USA Today’s slogan: “Not the most words, just the right ones.” Keep the answers organized. Use complete sentences. End sentences. Provide one thought at a time. Practice important or complicated answers when you’re not on the hot seat so that the answers come to you more readily when you are. Think about what you should, could, or want to answer to a question. Rehearse it in your head, and depending on the importance, record your answer on your smart phone then play it back to hear how you sound. Listen and think how it will sound to others and how they’ll likely react. Change your wording if necessary to get the reaction you want. Try out different words to test the different effects. Follow the instructions given to airline pilots who are taught to select words that minimize travelers’ anxiety. The phrasing “The new departure or arrival time is…,” is better than the word “late.” The word “gate” is preferable to “terminal.” And “destination” sure beats “final destination.” Choose descriptive words since they have their own body language: For example, “We get a lot of referrals” is bland compared to, “We get a beautiful number of referrals.” “We work well together,” is less convincing than “We work in harmony.” If you don’t know the answer, say you don’t and then go find it out. Don’t fake or try to fool with the hope that “if you throw things against the wall some will stick.” Don’t attempt to show how much you know when in truth you’re disorganized and nervous and don’t know. “I don’t know, but I’ll find out,” works. “Yes” and “no” are perfectly acceptable answers to almost every question. They avoid the groan, “How short the question; how long the answer.” “That’s something I choose not to answer,” can be your response if they are just being nosy. You don’t have to answer every question (just as they don’t have to answer yours), but it does tend to stop the conversation flow. “I’m just going to skip that question” is an answer that works sometimes. It’s more straightforward than what politicians are taught in the art of “nonanswer.” As former White House insider George Stephanopoulos explains it, “The fundamental rule is to shoehorn what you want to say into the answer no matter what the question is.” If you keep getting the same questions, you’re not answering well. Answer, and then ask, “Is that what you were asking?” or “Does that answer the question?” to make sure you did. Keep it a conversation, not an interview. Pay attention to micro-questions the person is asking. Pay attention to peoples' answers to your questions. You need to hear and know their interests and priorities to determine the answers you need to give and questions you need to continue to ask. Return to questions that were unanswered by you because they got skipped over with “Something I may not have explained well….” It shows you listen, remember, and take responsibility to answer as asked. -Debra P.S. If you have comments or questions, please feel free to contact me. Photo: West Midland Police