Somewhere around 1997, I got a big break. At the time, however, I had no idea it was going to be a big break. I got a call from an executive in the company asking me if I was interested in joining a special project.
This special project didn’t have much of a definition yet, so he couldn’t tell me much about the job. The opportunity had a litany of reasons why the answer should have been, “Thanks, but no thanks.” Red flags madly waved in front of my face:
- I would have to drop everything and move to across the country.
- I would be separated from my long-term boyfriend and basically everyone I knew.
- The opportunity wasn’t going to lean on my expertise in sales.
- I really loved the team I was working with.
- I really loved the work I was doing.
I swept those red flags aside and took the leap.
Why did I say yes? Because of a single interaction with that same executive. Roll back about six months earlier. This executive had come to Austin (my base at the time) to go out on sales calls with members of the team. We spent the day together going out on meetings to prospective clients. He watched me in action and learned how the whole sales process worked. Taking executives out on sales calls was not new for me. The conversation along the way with this executive however was.
He gave me some feedback about my style and approach to sales that fundamentally adjusted my approach. What was particularly interesting about this feedback was that it was specifically crafted for me. It factored in both my strengths and weaknesses. The same feedback wouldn’t have rung true for my peers. The details are not important, but the lessons I learnt can be applied to all.
There were two lessons I learned that day. First, the techniques I should utilze to be a better salesperson. Second, that I wanted to work with this executive again, whatever it took.
He saw me for who I uniquely was. Aware of both my flaws and my strengths, he messaged encouragement and potential.
I took the job even with all the reasons why I shouldn’t. I wanted to work with this person. I wanted to work for someone who saw my unique value.
So why am I telling you this story? What’s the idea I’d like you to mull over as you go about your day?
In your leadership role, do you see the individuals on your team uniquely? Do you talk to them about what value they distinctly bring? Turn the tables on yourself for a second, do you have a former boss or mentor who, if they called, would make you think twice about staying in your current role? Better yet, how much more would you love your job if your boss saw you for your unique awesomeness?
This whole “how do you articulate how you are uniquely awesome” idea I’ve been sharing for years now goes both ways. Yes, you should absolutely be able to articulate your awesome. In a way that’s unique, compelling and authentic.
But you should also be able to articulate why your team members are awesome in a way that’s unique, compelling and authentic. When you do, each individual is seen, they understand that their work matters.