As a leader, asking and answering questions is routine for you. You know the importance of asking the right question at the right time, providing feedback to your team, and asking questions to be more visible. But have you ever thought of asking yourself these three crucial questions?
Question #1: What are the top experiences you have had in your career?
Think of some project or team that you were a part of that made a huge impact on you.
That experience helped you gain knowledge, learn a lesson, grow as a leader, bond as a team, or perhaps you made the impossible, possible. So are you going to keep that all to yourself or are you going to share what you learned?
Every person I work with or talk to has an amazing story that impacted or changed them in some way. They may not think about it as amazing because they lived it. They may say words to describe it that sound like: “I was just a part of the team, it wasn’t a big deal, I was just doing my job or we were just at the right place and right time.” This is diminishing and devaluing the good things that happened to avoid being seen and valued.
I invite you to look at your experiences and knowledge as extraordinary instead! You will immediately show up and talk about it differently when you see it that way. Remember, with every conversation you have, you get a choice to tell your own story based on what you believe about yourself. So how do you want to tell it? What was the impact that it had on you? How did it shift your thinking or give you new ideas? What did you do because of that experience?
Someone you mentor, a peer, or a direct report can all benefit because of what you know, but if you don’t share it, they never will. How can you take what you have learned and pay it forward by teaching/mentoring someone else?
This is your story to tell, to show the good things you have been involved in or led. Own your story, whether things went well or there were challenges. Every experience teaches you something that you needed to learn, or you didn’t know about yourself! Embrace those learnings and share them!
Question #2: How often are you doing something just to make someone else happy while you are miserable?
Someone asked me, what are your thoughts about boundaries? My initial reaction was that they are a good thing now, but I used to have so much resistance to putting boundaries in place for myself. I didn’t think of them as bad, but I felt others might judge me if I said no because they would be disappointed. I was a people pleaser who cared more about others and their feelings than my own. Being liked meant so much to me that I would say yes all the time, take on too much or do things that someone else should have done.
Is that something that has happened to you too? Do you worry that you may be judged for setting boundaries? Will people feel like you are being difficult because you tell them you can’t do something that they want you to do? It is kind of fascinating when I think about it now. I worried about how someone else felt…when they wanted me to do something that I didn’t want to do… and I said no. I valued them and not myself. Crazy, right?
I gained a whole new appreciation for boundaries when I interviewed Krista Resnick on The Visibility Factor Podcast, episode 34, called “Keep Your Boundaries.” She says that “Boundaries are the kindest and most helpful form of communication that you can offer to another person.” She explains how people can see boundaries as positive, and it helps them put themselves first instead of everyone else. If you are unsure of how to set a boundary or struggle to say no to others, this is the episode you have to listen to, so you can shift how you see boundaries and how you can create them for yourself.
Question #3: Are you letting opportunities pass you by?
In every organization, there are processes that are inefficient, people who need training, frustrations about workload, and problems that need to be solved. These are just a few examples and there are many more that exist in a company.
How come no one is trying to solve them? The list of reasons usually sounds like this: lack of time, may not have the skills or expertise, don’t view it as part of their job responsibilities, or they are waiting for someone else to step in and do it. What if you stopped seeing it as a problem, and inserted the word opportunity instead? Does that shift how you see it at all?
When you think of it as an opportunity, it implies something that can be good for you. It helps you see it in a positive light vs. a negative one and you get to decide whether you want to take advantage of it. You could be the one that solves the problem, process, or challenge that no one else wanted to do. I remember a former manager of mine said, “look for the problems that need to be solved. When no one else is doing anything about them, you can step in to address them and be seen as a leader who takes initiative to improve things.”
This former leader of mine was teaching me about the importance of taking advantage of visibility opportunities. It is important because you can gain visibility for what you did when no one else would. You will get to show another side of your leadership and it can change how people see you. Look around and see how many opportunities exist all around you that you could make an impact on.
This is a leadership moment, and you get to decide: Are you ready to step up and solve problems or let the opportunity pass you by?
And If you need my support to help you with any of this, just reach out. Sometimes it just takes a single conversation to help you see what you may be missing and get you on the right track!
Susan M Barber, Author, Podcast Host, Former Fortune 500 IT Director, turned Certified Executive Coach helps business leaders to play bigger, increase their visibility and finally, shine a light on their leadership strengths so they can elevate their position in the workplace. She brings a depth of business knowledge to her coaching from her 25+ years of leadership experience at Kraft Heinz. As the author and podcast host of The Visibility Factor, she is creating a visibility movement for leaders to show their value and be seen for their true talent. Susan is married with three children and lives in the Chicago area.