Are you struggling to make the next step in your career?
You might be a team member wanting to be a team leader, a junior manager looking for greater responsibility, a seasoned professional aspiring to achieve greater influence in your organisation, or an executive looking for board level opportunities. What is that quality you sense you’re missing?
For most of us, the activities and competencies we enjoy, we tend to find easy to execute or deploy. These are things that come as second nature to us. However, we may not be fully aware of, or recognise the value of these strengths.
When people applaud us for our acumen, we might be dismissive of the praise – surely everyone can do this? These are often tacit capabilities and embedded behaviours, predominantly unconsciously executed. The fact that we find them easy to do is a characteristic of our strengths, but this ease is why we might write them off.
If you dismiss or reduce the importance of your own strengths, you are also increasing the psychological gap between where you are and where you feel you need to be to make that next step. This impacts your ability to see how you can bridge this apparent chasm, which can leak out in your behaviours.
The result of this is that you not only diminish yourself in your own eyes, but in the eyes of others, not least those that are in a position to influence your career progression. You also alienate those that complement you on your successes.
By dismissing praise, you are effectively telling people that they are wrong to highlight these things, patronising them in the process. You are also suggesting that there is something wrong with them if they find what you almost automatically do difficult themselves.
If this resonates with you, there are two things that I suggest you might consider doing to start addressing this situation. Firstly, take the complements in the spirit they were given. Accept these, as you would any gift, with good grace – a simple thank you will do. It will be uncomfortable at first, but it will become easier.
Secondly, look for feedback on a regular basis. Ask people what they feel you do well. Enquire as to what they would like to see you do even more of. Also give them the opportunity to describe what they’d like you to do less of and what they’d like you to stop. In each case, ask for specific examples, as these will give you something concrete to reflect on. Perhaps most importantly, find out how these behaviours impact them.
Always take the feedback at face value and don’t defend your position or behaviour. What you are receiving is someone else’s perception, which may well be different to yours. Feedback isn’t about garnering ‘the truth’; it’s about understanding the impact you have. Over time, this understanding should help you to develop a greater appreciation of your own strengths, build your awareness of the differences in perspective that people have and how this impacts their perceptions and consequently enhance your influencing skills.
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