III. Being Part of the Conversation
This is the third of a four part series on elevating your status with peers and working with those who make major decisions.
In How to Make the Connection we discussed the particulars of engaging with a new individual, presenting your strongest self, and listening.
In How to Elevate People’s Perceptions we talked about research, perspective, and how to develop skills to assert yourself without being overbearing or intimidating.
You know you’ve begun to be part of the conversation when questions are asked of you or people mention you without you being there. At this stage you can be more comfortable because you’ve established your place, or at least got your own footing. What you have to remember always, as you shepherd your own career, is ... what others need and why.
The Time Dilemma:
Busy and successful people have power, but never enough to fully achieve what they need, and never enough time to do so. They are comfortable in making strong choices, and learning to live with them, but we are all dependent on others to achieve more than we can on our own. It’s simple math.
Value is a give and take. It’s also a sharing process.
Now the fun part☺
Hard decisions are made all the time. Good leaders make them. Bad leaders cannot and depend on others to clean up after them to avoid the consequences of these decisions. You can be valuable in either scenario, but remember, don’t stay too long under a bad leader or eventually the egg will get on your face because they are experts at not letting it get on them.
When a good leader can add a member to their team whose value is in their experience and knowledge of how something worked previously (or why a certain act may have certain positives to it), that team member provides value because they save time.
By making yourself personable and valuable, you make yourself dependable and then must work hard to maintain this. There’s a big difference between writing one book and publishing your second, same as writing a big pop hit and then not fading into obscurity.
The more valuable you become, the harder you must work to understand the nuances of a situation because your input becomes more and more weighty as the business or project grows and eventually you even develop people under you who help become part of your “conversation.”
Invariably, your point of view will not be heard and something will go wrong.
You will make a decision where things do not go as planned. Never blame others, even if they had a part in it. Accept responsibility and recognize how to move forward positively. A good leader will accept this. But keep in mind a bad one may not.
To Be Part of the Conversation, you have to balance the following in your actions:
*Do your work early or on time for a project.
*Explain the decisions you’ve made, but in a way that gives those in higher positions two clear options or choices.
*Accept whatever decision is made, but make it clear (for both options) the immediate steps to be taken, and the possible consequences. This is because all major decisions have consequences, and people who have less to gain often don’t fully embrace the change, causing it to fail.
*And if you have a better idea, present it, but try to get others to add to it and help make it their own idea too.
It should suffice to say that you will only be successful if your research, ideas, and ability to execute them are solid.
I remember earning my “place” working with a particular nonprofit, who leader was getting advice from multiple parties, and I was “new” to the situation. Suddenly, a moment appeared where my view was contrary to the CEO and VP.
I acquiesced, graciously, though I did make my objection clear. In fact, I had three issues, and I worked to prevent exactly what I knew would happen. All three happened and went “wrong.” Later on those who made the decisions acknowledged their mistakes (note—this is actually not that common). This strengthened my relationship with all parties involved and for years I’ve benefitted from this experiece by being the one to advise on executive level logistics related to people and gathering even if I had no part in the initial planning.