Reflections from a coaching conversation
A few weeks ago, I was wrapping up a 6-month coaching engagement with a client who is new to his role and somewhat new to our industry. This purpose of our final call together was to talk about his progress, learnings and his plan moving forward.
Why am I writing about this? Well, this was one of the best wrap up calls I’ve ever had! I’m super impressed and blown away by the monumental progress he made during our time together and his continued commitment to learn and grow. Without a doubt, one of the best parts of my job as a coach is witnessing growth in my clients — because they are the ones who make it happen, I just help them along the way.
At the end of our wrap up calls, clients get to ask me questions (finally) and put me on the spot for information (or in this case — guidance). I really enjoy the questions, and I get the opportunity to share my many years of experience and learning with them directly.
And sometimes — I get really good questions that make me pause and reflect. My client asked me a couple of questions about his future, and they were such powerful questions that I decided, with his permission, to write about them — which I will do over a couple of columns!
The first question he asked was, “How do I become recognized as a leader in my company?” I love this question, because it demonstrates his desire to grow within his organization and be recognized by the leadership and his peers. Second, it shows his commitment to continuing to learn, grow, and become the best he can be — which is really what coaching is all about!
My response included 4 steps he can take that will assist him with not only this goal, but many others as well. Without further ado, here are your 4 steps to being recognized as a leader in your company:
Invest in yourself
If you are waiting for others around you or your company to invest in your growth and development — you’re going to be waiting a long time! Don’t get me wrong, some companies do invest in their employees, but typically it’s focused on products and processes and not actual professional development. If you want more from your life and career, YOU (yes, you) have to invest in your growth and development.
As Warren Buffett said, “The best investment you will ever make is in yourself.”
You can’t wait for others to do it for you — you have to do it first and often. You are the only one that can craft your journey and you can do it today, all you have to do is start! How? Well, the first thing I would recommend is reading, then free videos, then paid courses or memberships. Your options are limitless, just look around and you can find plenty of places to start. You just have to start — don’t wait, do it today!
Be a student of the industry
I truly believe one of the best ways you establish your leadership is by becoming a student of your industry! Learn as much as possible, from as many different people or resources as possible. What’s great about this avenue of becoming a leader is that it gives you information from different perspectives and makes you an expert in a lot of areas. This learning method allows you to form your own original thoughts and ideas — and then share them with others.
We all have to start somewhere — it doesn’t matter where you are in your career, if you are truly a student of your industry, you can become an expert. As Helen Keller said, “The expert in anything was once a beginner.”
The more you learn about your industry and your given role, the better you can serve and support your colleagues and clients — regardless of where you are in your career. The fact is, we all gravitate to those that have experience and expertise, and they developed that over time, being a student of the industry, listening, absorbing, learning, and implementing. If you want to stand out from the crowd, learn as much as possible about your role and the industry you work in. It’’s not always an easy journey, but it can be a successful one.
Connect with people
One of the best parts of working in our industry is the opportunity to connect with people. And as I shared with my in his wrap up call — the more people that you can make an authentic connection with, the better, and to do that, you should follow the advice of John C. Maxwell. He once said, “To connect with people, be yourself, at your best.” It can be difficult at times to always be your best self — but as long as you are making the effort, people will notice.
Connecting with others is something I cherish and some would say it’s my super power (but that might be stretching it). Meeting new people and making connections is something that I enjoy for many reasons.
Last week, a recent college graduate with a specialized master degree was referred to me by a long-time friend and colleague. I connected with him, and we chatted about where he is in his journey and the struggles he was having. So I offered to make a few inquiries for him and see what I could uncover. A few hours later, I had the name and email of someone who could help him — thanks to industry connections who also want to help people.
In reality, it cost me nothing to help this young man, and I did it without any expectation of him hiring me or getting anything in return. Why? Because I like to help people, and our industry needs more young, talented, and motivated people who are here to stay. Whatever role I can play in that — I’m happy to do it.
Let your voice be heard
The last step I shared with my client is to let his voice be heard. This step goes a long way towards establishing your confidence in your own opinions and helps you get recognized as a leader within your organization.
If you sit quietly in the corner, scared to share your thoughts, ideas, or opinions, how is anyone going to know who you are, what you believe, or what you contribute to the project? You have the power within you to impact your organization and those around you — if you let your voice be heard.
President Barack Obama said, “Your voice can change the world,” and I truly believe that. However, be mindful to use your voice wisely. Don’t just speak to be heard, or hear yourself talk — be intentional and confident, because what you say reflects who you are personally and professionally.
Cheers to my client for asking this powerful question, and thank you for the privilege to work with you. You are going to create an amazing career in our industry, and I look forward to watching all the great things you will accomplish.