Stand Out Now We’re Let Out : 3 Age-old Truths Stay True
By Keith Labbett, Managing Partner Osprey Executive Search / AltoPartners Toronto
The word campaign in the English language comes from French campagne, meaning “open country” or “field”. As our countries open up, in order to Stand Out it is time to begin your personal campaign. How aggressive or “far afield” depends on your industry and goals. This is a long-term commitment to a process of developing personal value and relevance toward your goals and objectives.
As we slowly drift out of the pandemic, there seems a desire to predict the future. I fall into this category and I am often asked “how” and “what” an executive should do to stand out or outperform their peers? As a history graduate, my first instinct is to look back at the past – what has worked and why. What has made others stand out in the past during times of upheaval or even in relatively stable times? What have all leaders – business or political – done in the past?
Three truths to consider
- To Stand Out, you must get out and be seen and heard
Unless you are planning on being a social media star, that means in person. Even social media icons compete and manufacture “together time” with those critical to their subject matter to leave an impression of relevance. Winston Churchill didn’t rally the allies by telephone - he travelled! Nor did our recent business pioneers turned space travellers Branson, Musk, Bezos build their empires by meeting with people via video. Notably, Corporate Trailblazer Karen Lynch, newly appointed CEO of CVS (highest ranking Fortune 100 female CEO ever), is leading with a passion to transform health care to be more personalized. A trained accountant, she gives credit for her success to her time spent in HR and learning “the importance of the human touch”. With many reasons for being passionate about health care, she backed up her claim “it’s personal to me”, genuinely ensuring her intentions Stand Out. Words to live by are best delivered in person.
2. Create credibility for why you are relevant within your organization or industry
Why is it essential for the people you would like to influence to meet with you? The reasons for credibility vary significantly. It can range from something completely practical and pragmatic such as you have capital to invest or product needed; as cerebral such as you possess information or a skill set that is needed or desired; or as personal as whether your opinion or company is appreciated and valued.
3. Top industry influencers generally gather together with peers, which is something they often do not make known (sometimes it could be seen as a conflict of interest)
Usually, it is to gain a perspective and assurance of being on the right track. The most senior executives are often not plugged-in participants on social media (do not confuse this with being plugged into the business world). Many will give the appearance of having a social media presence. Still, unless it affects their interests directly, they do what is only necessary, and very often, their content is managed by someone else. Even the most gregarious and friendly influencers must keep a vigilant circle of who is important to them personally and professionally. This can often be mistaken as elitist but is generally due to the fact they can be quickly overwhelmed by an outrageous and unmanageable volume of attention. It is a necessity for simple time management, sometimes self-protection and likely sanity. In order to stand out within your industry, or ultimately become a major industry “player”, you must become relevant and trusted. The ultimate is to be a respected equal, and the expert in your field with the influential leaders relevant to your “campaign”. How do you get into your desired circle or build credibility and clout if you’re on the top “rung”? Personal relevance!
Yes, technology has changed everything, as it always has and always will. Yet, people still need connection for trust, comfort and mutual understanding. The most successful of us will still be the ones who initiate and elicit trust, thus enabling them to initiate influence in order to create action and attain desired results. Whether it is for the good of humanity or (more commonly) for their own personal gain (it can be both), all strong leaders I know (or know of) who are looking to gain any influence would prefer (and are) most successful in person.
How are you Standing Out?