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Do you remember the first time at work you accomplished something you were really proud of and it was met with appreciation?
I do. I glowed with pride when I heard that a project I’d suggested and then ran with (digitizing some financial records) was praised by the firm’s partners.
It also earned me a significant bump in salary, so I made a mental bookmark: “Keep doing what I just did.”
I put my head down and continued to work hard, assuming that I’d continue to be singled out for the quality of what I produced.
And that’s where I got stuck.
Turns out, great performance is not the stand-alone foundation for sustained career momentum we’d all like to believe it is.
As leader of a large organization that helps provide over 4 billion meals a year to people facing food insecurity, Feeding America CEO Claire Babineaux-Fontenot says one of the key things she continues to try to understand is who is in her talent pool and what their strengths are.
“I have to make decisions about the direction of our organization,” says Claire.
If employees have not made it clear what their specific skill set is, those individuals can miss out on golden opportunities that are tailor-made for their skill set, she says. Meanwhile, their organization and those it serves miss out on the opportunity to benefit from their talents.
“In the name of modesty, we sometimes hide our talents, creating missed opportunities for our organizations and for ourselves,” says Claire.
Know what your unique talents are, she urges, and expose and leverage them in service to your organization. There’s nothing untoward about being honest about what you do well.
“Your company cannot fully appreciate how to leverage you as a resource if the company does not have visibility into what your unique talents are. So, don’t deny your company that chance,” she says.
Your work doesn’t speak for itself. When you keep your head down, you silence your voice and submerge your influence.
Remember, if you’re a hard worker who develops a reputation for hard work, you can expect to attract more work and not necessarily the recognition that’s no doubt well deserved.
We Australians describe someone with his or her nose to the grindstone as “head down, tail up.” Visualize how that looks. Which part of you is most visible? Possibly not your best … asset.
Are the people you work with aware of all that you have to offer?
By making your voice heard, your strengths known and your value visible, you’ll make life better and easier for everyone … yourself included.
Adapted from "Woman of Influence: 9 Steps to Build Your Brand, Establish Your Legacy, and Thrive" (McGraw-Hill, 2019), by Jo Miller. Miller lives in Iowa and is a globally renowned authority on women’s leadership; jomiller.com; @jomillerauthor.