Tuesday, October 20, 2009

60 seconds to improving your image

Improving your image immediately - who wouldn't want that? People say nice things about you. You have the ability to call in favors and are certain to get what you need. Tough conversations are a thing of the past. People seek out your counsel and assistance. You feel good about yourself and so do others. The world will do as you command….

I'm over-selling the idea as part of my promise to “color the world” today - more on that later - by emphasizing the idea that with small changes, big results can occur. Here's how to change your image:

Do what you say you are going to do. Every time.

That's it. What's more - it is everything. Broken agreements - or failing to honor commitments - are the causes of most problems faced in business and in life. Whether it is a failure to correctly estimate shipping time for a product sorely needed by a client, or telling your wife you would be on time for dinner, and were not, precedents are set by our ability to match action to words and speak to our integrity. Integrity is fragile; taking many good acts to build but only a single bad one to cause damage.

Are you a person of integrity? Do you keep your word?

Actions speak louder than words.
At the end of every year, the staff and I develop goals for the upcoming year. For my home life, I review my personal goals during the December holiday break. It's a good time to get re-acquainted with where you said you wanted to be, and where you actually ended up. More rightly you can assess whether you kept your word to the company and yourself. At this late stage in the year you've hopefully have stacked up a pile of accomplishments and not a list of well-intentioned-things-not-yet-completed. After all, when it comes to reviews, it's not what you wanted to do that counts - it's the measurable results that matter. Fall on your sword, show the boss this article, and promise her you have seen the light and are changing your ways. However, if in the future you find yourself behind the proverbial eight-ball, rather than stressing a repeat performance of the sword play, I offer a simple solution. Stuff happens.

Stuff happens
One of the best things about life is that it is unpredictable. One of the worst things in life may be that it is unpredictable. And while random chaos may be a bit daunting, I've got you covered: planning and communication. If resources are required, they will be scheduled. If projects can be scheduled, they can be rescheduled. If agreements can be made, they can be amended. It all comes down to setting expectations and then keeping up with the details, informing everyone when things change.

Waiting until the last minute before asking for an extension demonstrates a lack of control. Gleefully nodding as a client adds more and more requirements to the project without a subsequent discussion of delivery dates is poor judgment and poor service. I'm not suggesting that these discussions will be easy, they are often not, but nonetheless they must be had to ensure expectations are set and your reputation remains intact. Just remember, whenever status changes, you need to communicate this to others and ensure everyone knows.

Coloring your world
Today started out as a cold and gray Fall morning. The kind of day where you might not want to get up, at least that's how it began for me. As my wife left for work, I decided that for both of us, we could use a positive pick-me-up. So, I decided to update my status - both literally and figuratively - to, “gray days make me wanna color your world. Heck, I'll even use Pantones®!” I've noticed a trend lately where folks dread Mondays, love Fridays and generally miss everything in between. And there's a lot of good stuff in there. So what do you say, constant reader, think I should write a piece on positivity? I can promise it won't be cloyingly sweet and it will make you think. Drop a line and let me know.

1 comment:

  1. I’m so glad you’ve touched on the importance of integrity. This is a subject that I focus on when I’m in a mentoring situation. Maintaining a high sense of integrity in both business and personal matters is truly fulfilling and builds trust. Without trust you have no allies, and without allies chances are you will not get far.

    Integrity is a skill and takes practice, but once you’ve attained it, you will enjoy the many benefits. Here are a few of my own bits of shared advice on gaining and maintaining a true sense of integrity:

    First you may have to keep yourself in check, fighting human nature sometimes. It’s a human thing to want to benefit one’s self in spite of doing what’s right.

    Learn to recognize the difference between what’s honest and sometimes the difficult path as opposed to what may be easy and dishonest, and ask yourself how you will feel later.

    Don’t lie…to yourself or anyone else. Say nothing if the truth could be damaging, but don’t cover up or create falsities. Lying to yourself is also a human trait, so beware. Never tolerate lying in your presence either. Be sure to approach the subject with your staff if you sense this may be a problem and set the level of expectations. If you don’t lie, then you won’t tolerate it from them either.

    Practice it, learn it, live it. Once you’ve obtained a true sense of integrity, it will become a permanent part of your character and will come naturally. Honest and trustworthy leaders and mangers will create loyalty. A loyal staff is working for you because the respect and trust you which is a great reward for a leader.

    Thanks John. Looking forward to your next posting!!