Visualize this. If you were running the company you work for, what would you need and want out of your best employees? Who would you choose to turn to for guidance to help you make your most important and difficult decisions? Who would you want to partner with? Who would be your problem solvers? My guess is that on the list you would look to those who think strategically, add value, offer solutions, make a difference and go the extra mile. This is the mindset that will set you apart. So why not offer what you would be looking for? Answer your own call and it will be a win-win..And you never know, one day you might be in the position you were visualizing!
At Microsoft, we have our fair share of re-orgs I am sure that where you are there are uncertain times too. I am always surprised at the number of colleagues, at all levels, that are willing to sit back during these times of uncertainty and wait to be told what to do. I have found that these are actually a great time to lead. There can be less headwind and less opposition. Sideline observers say why bother because this will all get sorted out in the near future. But what I have found is that much can get done in a short amount of time during these times. And the fact that you step it up to continue to move forward in times of uncertainty is noticed and usually rewarded.
What do you do when there is an opportunity to give a presentation but you have worked with colleagues on the project? My suggestion is to share as much of the spotlight as possible. It is important for all team members to hear how the project was received, what was the feedback and how it can be improved. What are ways that you can involve your teammates? You can co-present with your colleagues. You can ask one of your colleagues, managers or project sponsors to kick off the presentation. You can invite other teammates to the meeting or if there are too many for the room to accommodate, you can have additional team members join by phone. By involving everyone in the readout you can solidify the team, ensure everyone can participate and absorb the feedback whether it be good or bad, give visibility to management on who was involved and have the best opportunity to answer all questions on the spot.
It is good to reflect upon the positive contributions from others on your team and what impact they have had. It is even better to share your reflections publically. Every year one of my previous bosses would gather his full team together and publically acknowledge each individual’s key accomplishments. This was doubly impressive because the team was quite large and he would not use any notes. He felt it was very important to know what each team member contributed and to share each individual’s success and what he valued about them with the full team. Not only did this form of recognition make each employee feel special and appreciated, all the other team members learned more about their colleagues, gained more respect for their peers and became a tighter knit team.
Three little words that make a big impact: Make other great. Shine the light on those around you and work to make them successful. Rising the tide for others will float all boats, including your own. What are some ways you can help make others great? Focus less on what you want and more on what they want. Help your colleagues get excited about what they are doing. Step back so they can step forward. Share your knowledge willingly. Be forward with feedback, both positive and constructive.
Today our head of HR Lisa Brummel had a sendoff as she is retiring after 25 years of service. This one is for her! She is one of the best leaders I have had the pleasure of working with. She will definitely be missed but her legacy will live on. In her parting words she urged us all to be courageous. To boldly go where no one has gone before. To try new things. To stick to our beliefs, even when challenged. If you are charting new territory, you don’t know what is around the bend. But if you have no fear, are courageous and help lead the way, others will follow and together you can do great things.
There is a case to be made that optimism can help breed happiness and success. So what behaviors are associated with this positive outlook? There is looking for the good in each situation you encounter. This is the glass half full metaphor. Then if you have a challenge or difficulty, there is finding the valuable lesson that can come from it. So in essence set backs are not seen as barriers but chances for learning and growth. Finally there is the mindset of looking for the solution when you encounter a problem. You are not a victim but are seen as a problem solver. If you bring these positive frames of reference with you, there is no telling how far this will take you and how you help enable others to do the same.
Change is the one thing you can count on. Things don’t stay the same. People inherently resist change because it means that they will have to deal with the unknown, and that can be scary. But we are turning unknowns into knowns all the time. That is what learning is all about. So know this. Know you will have different jobs in your life, you will have different bosses, and the organization you work in will change around you and with you. Some of the change you will initiate and some of the change will be imposed on you. But know that none of it is final. Which is the beauty because remember nothing has to be final. You always have the power to introduce more change to improve your situation.
It is important to also think detailed. If you have the ability to see the forest and the trees at the same time, it is a great combination to have. If you think Big and Detailed, not only will you be able to have the vision, but see how to implement it as well. You will be able to see the big picture and land it in the org. The combinations of these two skillets is powerful and not commonly found so advantageous to cultivate.
I want to make a difference. If not, why bother? Now my value add doesn’t have to be on an epic scale, but there needs to be a reason for my attention and effort to be focused in a certain area. If I am not moving the needle from my perspective, it is time for me to turn my focus elsewhere. I think making a difference is an opportunity in all jobs with every person. Everyone has the capacity to make a difference, to change the course, to make recommendations, or to make an impact. But it is up to each of us to trigger that capacity and continue to make the effort that results in being a difference maker on an ongoing basis.