Sunday’s New York Times Business section featured an interview with Barbara DeBuono, CEO of Orbis International. When asked what she looks for in an employee she answered..
“I’ve always been really struck by how many people in organizations fight what their organization needs. They say, in effect, ‘I’m not going to do that job. That’s not what I was hired for.’ And they say that even though the organization needs something else from them right now.”
Ms. DeBuono went on to say…
“It’s what’s really important to them. Is the future of the organization , the success of the organization, important to them? Or is really about them and their job and their paycheck? That’s how I separate the wheat from the chaff. If I get a sense that a person feels and knows that the organization is bigger than them, and they are really passionate about the organization, they’ll do whatever it takes. And so if this is what the organization needs right now, they will do it. I love when somebody even anticipates that – when I don’t have to tell them this is what the organization needs, and instead they’ve figured it out. That’s the kind of person I want.”
I was struck by these comments because last week I heard something similar from another CEO. I was interviewing Eric Harvey, CEO of Walk the Talk Company, a publisher of leadership and motivational books. This interview was for my membership site, My Corporate Climb. I do an interview of a C level executive every month for members of the site. These interviews give them the perspective of someone who has “been there and done that.” If you want to accelerate your corporate climb, go to http://www.MyCorporateClimb.com and check out what the site has to offer.
Anyway, in the interview Eric told me that the early career success he achieved came as a result of finding a need in his company (Johnson and Johnson) and volunteering to fill it – very similar to what Barbara DeBouno says she looks for in employees.
Tweet 63 in my career advice book Success Tweets says “Be visible. Volunteer for tough jobs. Brand yourself as a person who can and does make significant contributions.” In other words, demonstrate that you know your company is bigger than you and you are willing to do whatever is needed to make your company a success.
Being visible is a great way to create positive personal impact and demonstrating your commitment to your company. Volunteering for tough jobs is the best way to become visible. Tough jobs usually come in two flavors: 1) things no one else wants to do; and 2) tasks in which success is not guaranteed. Volunteering for both types of jobs will get you noticed in a positive way. Trust me here. This is good career advice.
Let me give you an example. Several years ago, I was working for a very large company. This company was committed to supporting the United Way. Every year, they conducted a huge campaign encouraging all employees to contribute. This was a job no one wanted to do. Who wants to ask their coworkers for money?
One year, I volunteered to run the headquarters United Way campaign. Actually, my boss suggested that I volunteer, so I did. I ran a successful campaign, bringing in a higher percentage of donors and a higher absolute dollar amount than the previous year. It was a lot of painstaking, detail work. I also had to manage a group of other volunteers who were canvassing their departments.
What started out as something I felt I had to do, turned into a great experience. I met several senior executives in the company. I met several influential people in New York City. And I demonstrated my ability to manage a large, complex project and bring it to a successful conclusion. And, I felt good about myself when I visited a couple of the agencies who were receiving funds from my company’s contributions.
I ended up getting a promotion as a direct result. One of the executives I met during the campaign liked what he saw in me, and offered me a position in his business unit. I created positive personal impact (with her at least) by taking on a job no one wanted and doing a good job with it. The only thing that I could have done better in this situation would have been to volunteer before being asked to do so,
Taking on a job in which success is not guaranteed is also a great way to demonstrate your commitment to your company. I have a friend who took on a very difficult job when he was a Sales Manager. His company’s CEO had a son who was a slacker. He had a couple of jobs with the company and had failed miserably in all of them. My friend was asked if he would fill one of his open sales positions with the CEO’s son. Several of his friends advised him against this – telling him that the son was not a good performer, and never would be.
My friend took on the task. He welcomed the CEO’s son to his sales team. He worked with him extensively. By the time he was finished, the CEO’s son was a good performer – not a great performer, but a good one. My friend took on a tough job, one in which success was far from guaranteed, and succeeded in it.
He created such an impression on the CEO that his career success moved rapidly. He went from District Sales Manager, to Regional Sales Manager, to VP of Sales, to the President of his business unit, in the space of six or seven years. Some people said he was in the right place at the right time. While that may be true, he took advantage of an opportunity that many people told him to avoid.
Stephen Covey suggests thinking of jobs in one of four ways.
• Not Important, Not Urgent
• Not Important, Urgent
• Important, Not Urgent
• Important, Urgent
Volunteering for tough jobs that no one else wants to do falls into the Important but Not Urgent bucket. Important but Not Urgent tasks will give you the most payback. We all tend to get trapped by urgency. However, non-urgent tasks that are very important to your success can slip through the cracks if you don’t force yourself to spend time with them every day.
You don’t have to volunteer for every tough job that comes along. However, by doing so on occasion you will be creating positive personal impact. Creating positive personal impact is an important, but not urgent task. You don’t have to be building your reputation every day, but if you never take on a job that will help you build it, you won’t achieve the kind of life and career success you want and deserve.
While it’s important to volunteer for difficult jobs, it’s also important to do the job with enthusiasm.
A while back, I read an article on enthusiasm by Judy Williamson, Director of the Napoleon Hill World Learning Center, at Purdue University Calumet.
“Enthusiasm is a powerful motivator when it is sincere and heartfelt. It is a spirit that inspires us to move forward positively in a direction of our own choosing… Only the results of enthusiasm can be seen, not enthusiasm itself, because it is an abstract concept. Love, faith, honor, loyalty, and beauty are also abstract concepts. They cannot be perceived directly with the naked eye, but can be seen indirectly in the results that they cause to happen…
“A certain charisma develops within the enthusiastic person. Crowds respond to the ‘electricity’ that this person generates when they walk into a room, address a crowd, deliver a speech, or just work for their cause. Enthusiasm becomes a catalyst for change when it is sincere. People jump on the bandwagon of an enthusiastic person because they want to feel the energy for themselves. Greatness demands enthusiasm.
“To be enthusiastic, act enthusiastically. Allow yourself to feel the energy and lightness of being that develops when you embrace the higher vibrations of your spirit.”
The “charisma” that Judy describes is what I call creating positive personal impact. When you create positive personal impact, you are building your life and career success, because others will notice you, want to associate with you, help you and follow you.
Enthusiasm will help you create positive personal impact. People respond to enthusiastic people. When you’re enthusiastic about what you’re doing, you and other people feel that you can overcome great obstacles. It will seem as if the entire universe is lining up to help you achieve whatever you have your heart set on achieving.
The career success coach point here is simple common sense. Successful people create positive personal impact. Visibility is a key to creating positive personal impact. Showing that you care about your company and its success is a great way to enhance your visibility in a positive way. Follow the career advice in Tweet 63 in Success Tweets. “Be visible. Volunteer for tough jobs. Brand yourself as a person who can and does make significant contributions.” Taking on tough jobs is an important, but not urgent task. You don’t need to take on one after the other, but you do need to find places where you can shine and volunteer for the job. If you never volunteer for tough jobs you will be losing the opportunity to create positive personal impact. When you volunteer for tough jobs, do them with enthusiasm. Enthusiasm will help you create positive personal impact and build your career success brand.
That’s the career advice I found in Barbara DeBouno’s thoughts on the importance of demonstrating your commitment to your company. What do you think? Please take a minute to share your thoughts with us in a comment. As always thanks for reading my daily musings on life and career success. I value you and I appreciate you.
PS: If you haven’t already done so, please download a free copy of my popular career advice book Success Tweets and its companion piece Success Tweets Explained. The first gives you 140 bits of career success advice tweet style — in 140 characters or less. The second is a whopping 390 + pages of career advice explaining each of the common sense tweets in Success Tweets in detail. Go to http://budurl.com/STExp to claim your free copy. You’ll also start receiving my daily life and career success quotes.
PPS: I opened a membership site on September 1. It’s called My Corporate Climb and is devoted to helping people create career success inside large corporations. To celebrate the grand opening, I’m giving away a new career advice book I’ve written called I Want YOU…To Succeed in Your Corporate Climb. You can find out about the membership site and get the career advice in I Want YOU… for free by going to http://www.mycorporateclimb.