Since the coronavirus pandemic hit, I’ve been very surprised at the types of outreach I receive on a daily basis now from professionals around the world. As a career and leadership coach, I’m used to hearing from strangers every week who wish for career and leadership growth support. But the inquiries I’m receiving now have a different tone and urgency. Now, they’re more about how people can finally make the significant career and leadership shifts they’ve long sensed they needed to, but previously just couldn’t muster the courage to do it, or didn’t have the ability to focus on how to make the changes they dreamed of.
They’re sharing challenges such as:
- I hate this work culture I’m in and now it’s even more apparent how “off” it really is
- I’m not aligned at all with the type of products and services my company offers and how they’re doing it
- I’m so tired of the way I’m treated and know it’s time for a change
- The leadership and management in my organization simply doesn’t get the challenges that we employees are facing every day—they’re completely tone- deaf
- Women just aren’t treated with the same respect and recognition that men are here and it’s worse now
- I realize now that I don’t want to be doing this type of work anymore and it’s time for a huge shift
And the most common revelation I’m hearing:
“Now that I’m not commuting and I have so much more time at home with my family, I never want to return to the incredible, meaningless rat race I was in before COVID-19 hit us.”
I’ve found throughout 15 years of doing career growth work that nothing motivates us more to finally stand up bravely and powerfully for ourselves and revise our lives, than a deep crisis. Just as 9/11 did for so many like myself, a crisis like today’s makes us wake up and realize that nothing is safe and secure but what’s inside of us and how we use our talents and abilities, and it’s time to leverage those gifts more powerfully and purposefully. It’s time to focus on turning crisis into opportunity.
This week, I was speaking to my colleague Tony Vlahos about this issue. Vlahos is the Chief Storyteller and Head of Brand and Learning for ExecuNet. For over 30 years, ExecuNet has shown senior-level executives how to land their ideal next role faster using a proven system developed by their world-class team of coaches, strategists and recruiters.
I asked Tony about what executives are reaching out to him and ExecuNet for right now and the types of challenges these professionals are facing that they wish to address, that are different from the common challenges they shared before the pandemic.
Vlahos shared this:
“Executives are reaching out right now in large numbers sharing different types of challenges than we have seen before. They are realizing more acutely than ever that there is no better time to “come forward” and be seen—truly seen—as value creators, uplifters and difference-makers, to be the kinds of leaders that top organizations would want leading them in challenging times and thriving times.
But many of these executives, both male and female, realize more than ever that they struggle with how to identify and communicate in a compelling, self-confident manner, what their true strengths and abilities are, and how they lead and influence differently from others. What professionals seem to need more than ever—and what we offer them—is an effective system that helps professionals raise their visibility, demonstrate their impact, build their collaborative network and make a true impression to close the deal in the interview. And at the center of all of that is the person’s value story.”
I couldn’t agree more. Our value story is so important to understand and share confidently and clearly, but millions struggle to do that. To address that need, below are three key ways you can use this unprecedented time to identify more clearly your “value” story, and come forward to share it and leverage your talents, gifts and leadership capabilities to make the positive impact you long to:
#1: Understand more clearly your special talents and how and why they’re important
Each of us has our own wonderful set of skills, talents and abilities, some of which have been developed through education, hard work and training, but others have come very easily to us, from early childhood onward. I always say that each of us is like a thumbprint—totally different and recognizable, with amazing complexity and uniqueness that is important in the world.
Great talents that have been with us since the beginning often don’t seem remarkable or valuable to us, but they are. And these are the talents you should be leveraging for a happier, more meaningful (and yes, financially-rewarding) career.
Many people who are in careers they hate have pursued a direction they thought was “safe and secure,” only to find it isn’t, and further, it’s not rewarding or enjoyable either. Professionals who are happiest in their work are using talents that come easily to them and are also rewarding and impactful in supporting positive outcomes that matter to them.
Take this step this week:
Take some time this week (at least an hour or two) and make a list of every job you’ve ever had. Then clearly articulate:
– What you loved about the job
– What you disliked
– The major achievements
– The hardest struggles
– Your biggest takeaway
And write down every single skill or talent used, then the important outcomes these talent and abilities helped you achieved.
Here are some great examples of talents and key outcomes that a recent client of mine shared:
- Built important client relationships that lead to substantially increased revenue (skill: listening, relationship-building, client development)
- Mediated key differences between our clients and our marketing team to create more effective promotions (skill: mediation, marketing, promotion, client relationship management)
- Devised and delivered successful new products based on market research to help the company diversify its offerings (skill: innovation, product development, product management, marketing)
- Conducted market and other research on potential acquisitions to ensure these investments were sound (skill: research, analysis, acquisition)
- Communicated with and supported the top media players in my field in ways that highlighted my company’s leaders as pioneers in the field (skill: communications, public relations, relationship-building)
Once you’ve done this exercise, you’ll see more clearly the talents and abilities you have and the measurable positive impact you’ve made in the jobs you’ve loved most.
#2: Start sharing and demonstrating your value and your “teachable point of view” and become more of the leader you dream to, now
Wherever you are right now, no matter the level, job or function you support, step up to more leadership and more uplifting and educational behavior in that role. Share your value, your innovations and ideas, your mental framework, and what you know. Find ways to bring forward your talents in new ways. Teach what you can teach to uplift people, and do what you can to enhance and shift the work culture to something more positive. You don’t have to be the boss to do this. You can do it in every word you utter, and every statement you choose to make.
Someone once said, “You can say anything when you say it with compassion and love in your heart.” Love is in short quantity at work, especially in fear-filled times, but there’s great truth in that statement. Say what needs to be said in all your conversations, meetings and Zoom calls, but avoid doing it from a frail, defensive ego or with harshness and fear. Inside, bring forth your gentle strength, empathy, compassion and calmness.
Embrace becoming the “highest” version of yourself starting today. By that I mean: Rise above pettiness, egotism, defensiveness, micro-managing and hyper-sensitivity and start embodying what it looks like to be the best and strongest version of who you want to be in the world and at work. When you can embody your highest and best ideals and values from a place of self-respect and self-appreciation, while respecting and embracing others, then you can be a role model for others, and have more successful conversations and meetings with greater positive impact.
#3: Identify three new ways this week that you can bring forward your great talents and use them more fully
Many of us are in “shelter at home” situations and we feel disconnected. But you can use this time to start thinking more deeply about how you would like to show up in the world differently and you can make a start to do just that, even in these times.
Clients of mine have, for instance:
- Started blogging on topics that have been of burning interest to them for several years
- Launched a new training series on YouTube
- Began developing their book proposal
- Curated content on LinkedIn, sharing the best of what they’re reading and commenting on it, adding their opinions
- Leveraged their skills in a new way such as taking their design and creative arts talents and focused them on making personal protective equipment for the community
- Stepped up to spearhead a new philanthropic initiative at work that gives support to communities in need
Another heart-warming example of this at a high level is John Krasinski’s new YouTube show “Some Good News” (I highly recommend it). Krasinski leverages his personality, humor and positive outlook to present content that helps us remember that everything that’s happening is not bad. There is so much good to be relished and celebrated.
While we’re all not top celebrities with a large following, we each have something important and beneficial to offer. The key thing that stops people from sharing their talents in a bigger way is fear that they’re not worthy enough to make the difference they long to. And a deep insecurity that they’ll fail and humiliate themselves doing something more meaningful.
There’s no time like now to turn crisis into opportunity and to walk through that fear to the other side, to greater contribution, impact and joy.
For more information, visit ExecuNet.
For support to make the impact you dream to, work with Kathy Caprino in her Career Breakthrough Programs, and check out her new book The Most Powerful You: 7 Bravery-Boosting Paths to Career Bliss.