To my team of Virtual Assistants;
"Making it known you are "the difference" isn't bragging. It's increasing your influence! Make it known you are not just an asset but a "NECESSITY" because let's be clear on this... You are WORTH every single attention and praise because you work hard on being WORTHY".
How we see building relationships or increasing influence is greatly affected by our culture or the culture we have been subjected to as we write our professional career story. It could affect our working relationships in either a positive or a negative way. Unfortunate but true.
Most of us look at people taking on leadership positions, stepping up and showing abilities as a part of "bad conspiracy" so they can bring you down to further their careers instead of a "good strategy" not just to further careers but to grow with the company and its employees.
AGAIN, our "culture". Because of the fear that people will see us in the same light, we completely hold back. We stay humble. We don't talk to people much. We don't show what we can do. We are scared to be out there. These are NOT going to help you advance, grow and succeed.
SO WHY DO I WANT TO INCREASE MY INFLUENCE?
I know my "whys" of increasing my influence because I've realized early in my professional career that influence plays a big role in my success. I want to succeed so I never let culture or what people think stop me. No, "Hey People! Bad intentions alert!" statements from co-workers will stop me. I am careful to do it as a “good strategy for our success” not a really bad nightmare of a scheme from other people's perspective. I use my “increasing influence” plan and path instead to motivate all of us through our journey to success.
My interviewing applicants for years confirmed what I already knew from my past experiences. "I am looking for a job that will provide me a steady income so I can be stable financially." This is the mindset at least at the beginning because you have "financial" needs and meeting them is a priority. So what will happen if I lose this job because the company itself is not performing? I will lose that "stability" and sense of security. We don't want to lose that job! Even a productive and effective employee will lose that job if the company loses business. This scenario alone made me realize I needed influence if I want to succeed as “I can’t do it alone!”
- SELF AWARENESS! If I work for a company, I need to know what is happening to the business and the company. I am more, "Is everything great with the company? Is it thriving? Is it successful? Is it reaching its goals? Is it where it should be? Or, is it going downhill?"
Where am I in all these? What am I doing for the company? Is what I am doing enough or do they need more? Am I capable to give more? What do I need to do to be capable?
If I don't have the influence, people will not be open to telling me what is going on. I need them to feel that they can trust me to tell me.
- SELF ENABLEMENT! I am a very curious person by nature and I always want to be prepared for the worst and then work on providing solutions to making it the best possible situation for all people involved. To do this, I need to know what is going on, who I can learn from, who are willing to teach me, what I myself can contribute to be ready.
If I am aware of the issues, did I prepare myself enough to provide possible solutions?
- EFFECTIVENESS! Do I have people I work with who are with me on this and are we ready and able as a team to execute provided solutions effectively? I know I can't be successful alone. To work on projects as big as "saving" jobs or even the company, I need a team to be one with me. The only way to have that is if I have enough influence on my trusted co-workers to trust that I can make it work with their help.
I can go on with all my "why" but from the three stated, I already know for sure that at the end of every single “why” is that the "influence" I have in a work place will help me succeed.
AND HOW DO I INCREASE MY INFLUENCE?
My process explained the simplest and may not be the easiest way but there is nothing easy about succeeding.
- ENGAGEMENT! As mentioned, I am a very curious person. I love to observe. I always have that "need" to know what interests people and whether it's something I have in common with them or not, I talk to them about it. Ask questions and learn from them. Let them know that I value their opinions. COMMUNICATION is the key to keep people engaged.
- CUSTOMER SERVICE RELATIONSHIP MENTALITY! We are a big CSR world. Each of us are customers and whatever curtesy you give to your customers; you should give to people you work with. RESPECT them as you want to be respected as a customer yourself. LISTEN to them as you want to be listened to. ASSIST them the way you want to be assisted when you're the one needing assistance. INFORM them of important matters as you want to be kept informed on everything that will affect your productivity and position in the company.
- ENABLEMENT! Let others do it if they ask to be given the chance! There is nothing like the feeling of being trusted to do something significant and do it right. Be the coach, let another do it effectively with your help and leave that self-entitlement out the door if only for his delight in the experience itself.
- APPRECIATION! Don't be too self-absorbed to be blind to achievements, contributions or great differences made by your co-workers. Worse, don't ever steal the glory! Appreciate all the help and make appreciation known. It should always be, "I see what you did there. I see you! I appreciate you!"
- EMPOWERMENT! Limiting what others can do just because we would rather be seen as the one doing it isn't going to help you pave your way through increasing your influence. Observe people and what they can do so you can help them know more or better yet, help "develop expertise". Don't set boundaries that don't exist and empower them instead because as they grow, they let you grow with them. This will help you establish that great and long term connection.
- INCLUSION! Know that in all the success stories of your life, it's not just you in the stories. Not all success is just yours alone to claim. In every success, you should be able to look back, see, know and then acknowledge that you didn't do it alone. Give the glory to whom it's due. Share the success and they will do the same. It's called team work for team success!
- RELIABILITY! Be the person not just the management but all the people you work with can rely on to step up when no one else can. This is the time you can show your "SELF ENABLEMENT" in action. It's not to scheme but to be able to deliver unexpected expectations when no one else can because you fully enabled yourself. “You anticipated, were proactive enough to enable yourself and now, you’re taking the initiative to be the one to deliver.”
- PERFORMANCE! There is nothing more effective to be noticed and to be able to influence people enough to gain their trust and confidence than by doing your job and exceeding expectations. Show them that you are not just for the position they hired you for but more. Add value to be more valuable to the people around you.
- DIFFERENCE! Be the difference not just in the work you do but in your relationship with the people around you. Make it a good influence. Don't use your influence to drag those in front of you or push those behind you.
- SELF ASSESMENT AND ACCOUNTABILITY are also important, Why? I leave you with this...
"You want to be humble so you are quiet about what you really put on the table? Remember, “human beings”? For most, what they can't see they won't look hard so they won't know. What they don't know, they won't appreciate. What they don't appreciate, they take for granted. What they take for granted becomes non-existent. So you and your hard work will eventually cease to exist.
At the end of the day, you want to exist, be recognized, be needed and be indispensable. So never assume you are seen properly. HUMILITY is not a word in the Virtual Assistant world. Know what you can do! Appreciate what differences you make and did.
After self-assessment, make yourself accountable for everything you do!
So as long as it's true, go BRAG your heart out about it!
Also! You do this and others may learn!"
My take, my mindset, my process and it's not my idea of a bad conspiracy, it's my success strategy. And this is me bragging about it and in doing so, I hope I was able to share some insights that will help you pave your way to success!
What about you? What can you brag about?
About the author: Bernadette Canero holds a Bachelor's degree in Industrial Engineering. She is one of the founders and owners of Summit VA Solutions. Ms Canero is Summit VA Solutions' Vice President and Chief Operating Officer and Virtual Assistant Trainer.