3 ways to prove your potential in the workplace (free book excerpt)
To mark the launch of our new one-day leadership course with the Institute of Direct and Digital Marketing, Jack Lowman, course leader and founder of Hack Yourself, shares a free excerpt from his book, Hack Yourself.
Join Jack on his course Innovate You – become a modern marketing leader on November 14th.
Below is a free excerpt from Hack Yourself: Many people, despite having a career plan and the overall motivation to succeed, struggle to keep up momentum at work when things take time to come to fruition.
They sit, they wait and they wish.
It’s tempting to slow down, under-perform and strike only when the time seems right or when an opportunity lands on your lap.
The following three scenarios explore why this tactic can be harmful to your development and how you can invest in tomorrow, by changing today.
GUNNING FOR A NEW JOB – THE “MIRRORING BEHAVIOUR” TECHNIQUE
Are you waiting for a position to become vacant at your company? Have you been waiting a while? Getting fed up?
If so, you are in the danger zone where people start to enter “sulk mode”, and dial down the amount of magic they spread on a daily basis.
During my time managing teams I have all too often seen a change in a person’s behaviour only because an opportunity has arisen. Usually, it’s too little, too late.
An alternative approach is that you start identifying the skills and behaviours that are required in that role, right now, and start demonstrating them. The first step should be to read the job specification of the role that attracts you, as this will help you identify what skills and experience the role requires. The next step, and often the most impactful, is to evaluate the behaviours of the person currently doing the job, or working at an equivalent level.
How do they act under pressure? What degree of maturity do they adopt in the office? How do they communicate with other colleagues? How would you describe their demeanor?
You’ll start to spot the gaps between your attitude and behaviours and those of someone operating at your desired level.
The good news is, you can instantly start adjusting your perspective and focus to mirror these behaviours.
When posed with difficult questions or situations, try to think how you would react if you were at a more senior level, instead of the role you are in. The reason to do this is so you stop waiting to be given an official remit, and just start being brilliantly competent at the things required for the job you want. Not only will you learn a lot, but you will edge towards being perceived as a person who could easily progress to the next level. You are so much more than your job title, but you have to demonstrate it.
A brief word of caution: this isn’t about exerting authority you don’t have. That will just annoy your colleagues. Stay modest, humble, honest and useful.
STEPPING UP TO MANAGEMENT – CHANGE THE MINDSET, CHANGE THE OUTCOME
If you are in a junior role and don’t manage staff yet, the transition to a managerial role can seem a huge jump.
When you start managing staff for the first time, you go from being a member of staff working for an organisation, to being “the organisation”. You should represent it, defend it and always work in its best interest.
The years before you become a manager are particularly telling in terms of your readiness to step up and be a torchbearer for your organisation.
Often, there will be a level of immaturity in people that means they are not ready – perhaps they gossip a lot or moan about decisions without trying to understand the reasons or searching for solutions. Perhaps they don’t seem ready to manage a group of colleagues that they socialise with.
If you are planning to make this step into management for the first time, now is a good time also to evaluate your behaviours and compare them with those who are in senior roles and managing staff.
If you are displaying the same maturity, energy and focus, then you are in a perfect position to perform to the best of your ability and take your career to the next level.
If you are stuck in the mindset of a junior member of staff, now is the time to become aware of the impact that this is having on people’s perceptions of you, and do something about it.
A LEADER IN WAITING – BECOME THE OBVIOUS CHOICE
Leaders of teams crave a high performing, happy team. However, a leader can’t create this culture single-handedly. They need team members who help make a team tick. People with energy, optimism and everyone’s best interests at heart.
Therefore, if you were hoping to be the lead of that team one day, it makes perfect sense that you would take responsibility to motivate and energise the people around you now, helping your current leader to create the best team possible.
The alternative is that you sit quietly, plotting how you would one day do things better given half a chance. However, it’s very unlikely that you will be seen as the natural successor if you don’t demonstrate some value along the way.
In conclusion, be the best you can be, consistently, despite how you feel or how long it is taking you to get ahead, and you’ll gain the respect and attention of those around you.
In case you missed it, the three scenarios above are screaming this at you: act for the job you want, not the job you’ve got. Go on, prove your potential.
Jack Lowman is founder and author of Hack Yourself. His one-day courses use modern hacking mentality and techniques to enable individuals to become the best leader they can be, no matter what their job title or responsibilities.
You can hear more from Jack and his business partner Mark Harris by attending his one-day Innovate You – become a modern marketing leader course at the IDM in London on 14th November.
Read more about Hack Yourself.