Class is Earned and Learned

People notice more about you than you might think.

One of my favorite clients shared, recently, that she was so appreciative of having a boss who walked his talk and was a leader everyone respected and enjoyed working for. “It’s the little things people notice and appreciate about him,” she explained.

That conversation led me to think about some of the “little things” we can all do that reflect professionalism. Here are a few to keep in mind:

Keep your word!
If you tell someone you’re going to do something, such as get your resume done on a certain date, follow through! Continuing to ignore promises or to break your word sets up a pattern. Many people have wonderful start-up skills and then drop the ball sometime before the project is completed. Following through is as important as making the commitment.

Never burn bridges (unless you’re a carpenter)!
Ever had a confrontation over a misunderstanding? Taking responsibility is the mark of a true professional. No matter what happens, it is not worth holding grudges and being obvious about it.

Communication is the answer. Address the situation in person, if at all possible. Choose a neutral location – away from both offices. Look him/her in the eye and explain your understanding of the disagreement. Ask questions. Be sure you know all the circumstances on both sides. Unless we have a clear picture of the entire situation, we cannot cement long-lasting relationships. Clearing the air can make it possible to forgive and go on…and what busy professional has time for wasted negative emotional energy these days?

Don’t brag!
Haven’t you learned the three B’s? Bragging and Boasting is Boring! Constantly talking about ourselves bores others. Ask questions. Take time to show a genuine interest in the accomplishments and passions of others.

Complete projects…completely!
When completing a project, make sure it is done to the satisfaction of two levels above you. This makes it easy for your boss to simply sign off on the project, not having to re-visit parts that were left undone or incomplete. This is a great way to build trust with your boss and peers.

Be vulnerable!
Let people know you aren’t perfect – and that you don’t think you are, either. They’ll be much more forgiving.

A client had been given feedback in her performance review that she was too tough and curt with people. As she progressed to a senior management position, she took this feedback to heart by calling each of her peers and asking for an hour to discuss ways she could work effectively with the team. During each meeting, she shared the feedback she had received, asked each peer to hold her accountable for helping her grow personally and enlisted their support. To the amazement of each one, she revealed her need for their help. This resulted in great teaming and further leadership roles for her.

A final reminder – leaders are in the spotlight. Be gracious and a role model every day. You’ll be the person others want to emulate and follow.

Valerie SokoloskyValerie Sokolosky is a Master Personal Brand Strategist and expert thought leader in leadership presence and personal branding. A widely published author and founder of Valerie and Company, her executive coaching and training has helped companies large and small achieve their goals of increased productivity, profitability, and enhanced people skills.