Leadership 101: Being A Professional (Level 1)

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What A Leader Is

Professionals create results

A professional only gives value when they do such a great job they can’t be ignored

Devoted to adding value to others

  • Aware that their results affect others
  • They avoid wasting time and stay productive
  • Professionals make a manager look good, a donor inspired, and a customer grateful
    • A professional employee’s job is to make their boss look good
    • A professional helps a manager instead of the manager telling them what to do

A great professional will observe a customer’s desires

  • Customers pay the entire organization
  • Consistency is often more valuable in a professional than quality
  • Customers care about fast and reliable results more than distributors, vendors, sellers or anyone else
  • Customers choose an expert because they appear to be more valuable than the competition

Adding value focuses more on improving lives than changing people

  • Change lies with each person and professionals respect boundaries
  • The focus on others comes through a developed sense of selflessness to where they’ll sometimes give their work for free

Focuses on answers to problems instead of failures, potential problems or excuses

  • Never whines or complains, but addresses problems formally and tactfully
  • Reasonably expresses limits and learns to work within them

Professionals live by the Project Management Triangle’s limits

  • project-mgmt
  • Cost – how affordable the item is
  • Time – how fast the customer can receive the product
  • Quality – how reliable, effective, and great the product is
  • High-quality of all three is impossible, so professionals have to choose two they prefer to provide

Stays motivated toward results and not on procedures or what feels right

  • Professionals determine results by how much it fulfilled the customer
  • Results come from consistently over-delivering, not only in delivering
  • Results-driven performance means sometimes saying “yes” to work outside the job description or saying “no” to something far outside the scope of the work

Keeps their long-term goals in mind in all short-term tasks

  • Motivated through undesirable portions of tasks from desired results
  • Thinks at least three steps ahead of the current situation and analyzes how events could unfold

Finds meaning in their work

  • Believes the stress of the work (commute, co-workers, culture, setbacks) is worth its reward
  • Their work results are publicly visible
  • Often helps others in their free time
  • Carries their responsibilities boldly

Their work usually connects to their life priorities

  • Focused on an overall life mission more than a career
  • Values and principles drive passions
  • Works as hard as necessary to succeed
  • More concerned with being the best than winning competitively against others
  • Personal hobbies often connect to the work

Professionals craft themselves from experience

Their experience is rarely straightforward

  • Personal experience often determines a professional’s approach
  • Past work experience teaches beyond what education can express
  • Work can bleed into private life, and vice versa
  • Building a career needs a strong reputation, which only develops over time

Experience creates value when someone learns from it

  • Professionals can find tremendous value in a little experience
  • Another word for applied experience is wisdom
  • Most techniques derived from experience appear to be common sense

True professionals usually need a few awful experiences

  • Working a very low-paying job requiring constant frantic activity
  • Holding a position or career path which fails miserably
  • Getting fired unfairly

Every discipline has a near-infinite realm of details and nuances to discover and learn

  • A professional understands which details matter even though they don’t know all of them
  • They instinctively verify others’ work and expect others to do likewise from all the details
  • Professionals always over-deliver what they promise because of the risks from so many details

Experienced professionals tend to show specific behaviors

  • Secretly eccentric from their passion about their work
  • Shows capability far more than talking about it
  • Always tinkering with hobbies connected to their work

Professionals carry themselves with a quiet dignity

Confident about what they know to be right in themselves and what they do

  • Willingly takes challenges which conform to their values others shy away from in fear

They don’t believe they are right but have no problem with being wrong

  • This comfort makes them unafraid to look silly or take unconventional approaches

Professionals are often great listeners

  • They’re aware they learn more from listening than speaking
  • They directly engage with whomever they’re talking with
  • However, they only look to people who have proven their credibility

Quietly persistent to their immediate tasks

  • Knows anything takes more work and longer than it appears
  • Doesn’t want to claim praise others could receive

Professionals adapt their desires to their perceived opportunities

A. They turn opportunities they anticipate into a strategy

B. They expect unanticipated issues and opportunities from that first opportunity

C. They adapt to unexpected to align with their large-scale goals

  • Maintains those goals to conform to newly discovered barriers
  • Ignores or sets aside opportunities inconsistent with those goals
  • Emotionally releases from unattainable goals

D. Makes reasonable sacrifices to overcome barriers

  • Works within the situation’s limits instead of wishing for an ideal circumstance

E. Continues seeking opportunities from new changes while adapting to them

  • Motivations or situations changing too much may require significant backtracking

Professionals are aware of and build on their skills

Always open to learn

  • Passionate about developing their profession
  • Deeply curious about subjects connected to their vocation
  • Possesses professional humility to know they don’t understand everything

Recognizes personal shortcomings

  • Knows their skills and limitations
  • Continually sacrificing dreams to do what they can reasonably attain

Constantly develops skills

  • Talented enough to understand intricacies of tasks
  • Focused on producing consistent and high-quality work

They see what they’re capable of

  • Resources they can use
  • Processes they can put resources into
  • Priorities which guide processes into results

Aware of their best learning style to develop their skills

  • Sensing reality around them versus comprehending symbols and comparisons
  • Seeing versus hearing
  • Hands-on experiences versus thoughtful and logical re-assessment
  • Seeing an ordered sequential set of steps versus seeing a global idea working downward

Professionals always desire to improve their relevant skills

  • Looks at the demand for a variety of skills and tries to find skills which match their talents
  • Works on skills directly connected to their scope of expertise
  • Observes seemingly mundane or irrelevant skills critical for success
  • Mindfully trains skills with many applications (soft skills like communication or analysis)
  • Seeks certifications when it showcases their capability
  • Adds peripheral skills to their core skills
  • A professional’s core skills become more and more specific over time

Learning develops through a natural process

  1. Recognizes new terms, ideas or procedures
  2. Learns the information without fully understanding its implications
  3. Applies general principles to specific applicable situations
  4. Separates a complex idea into components and understands the necessary ones
  5. Creates new ideas from multiple sources
  6. Judges ideas and methods with self-made measurement and outside evidence

Professionals develop their skills with specific goals in mind

  • Specific desired training outcomes
  • Enjoys the experience of developing expertise as much as the outcome
  • Has a preconceived notion to where they’ll use the skill or knowledge

Masters physical skills through the natural stages of finesse

  1. Observes sensory cues that guide a skill’s actions
  2. Psychologically prepares for the task
  3. Learns the steps to do the task
  4. Repeats the task incessantly until somewhat confident and proficient
  5. Performs the task as a natural habit confidently and proficiently
  6. Modifies portions of the task to take in new problems or situations
  7. Creates entirely new tasks as variations of old ones

Consistently growing and developing in personal endeavors and always open to new experiences

  • Stays up-to-date with technology and how it impacts their work, both organizationally and throughout society

A professional knows the value of their time, expertise, and resources

They walk into every engagement fully prepared to perform or deliver

A professional regards themselves as a consultant brought in to fulfill a role

  • They are ready to leave the engagement if it ceases to be mutually beneficial
  • They will behave how their manager interviewed them the entire duration of the job
  • They know the size of the client’s project often feels more daunting than to the expert
  • They routinely work outside a job title and treat it as a description of their necessary tasks
  • They never forget why their boss hired them

A professional’s values must match a company’s

Professionals negotiate their pay intentionally

Plans ahead

  • Creates a portfolio or presentation for the employer which justifies their salary with the past six months of results
  • Prepares a compelling case why the employer wants to give a raise
  • Considers all possible outcomes beforehand and pay raise alternatives

Finds a low-stress time to discuss it

  • Schedules meetings after lunch when the manager is most relaxed

Indicates the planned future of their time with the company

  • Gives clear examples of future personal development and how the position has developed
  • Knows when to press the case and when to stop talking

Provides an open opportunity for the manager

  • Only delivers a job resignation understanding its impact as an ultimatum
  • Only uses who/what/when/where/how/why questions and never yes/no questions which limit responses
  • Asks the manager how they see the professional’s future position to inspire future skills development

Emotionally uncommitted to the manager’s response but focused on the pay raise discussion

  • Maintains a kind and grateful approach throughout the conversation
  • Not afraid of getting a “no” response and doesn’t feel compelled to force a “yes”
  • Has prior experience in negotiation from other arrangements

Unafraid of staying silent

  • Offers don’t need an immediate response
  • Silence allows time to think and an opportunity for the manager to deliver a counter-offer

They know the value of others’ time, expertise, and resources

Doesn’t misuse company time or resources

  • Only uses company computers or office supplies for work-related tasks
  • Pays attention at meetings

Values others’ time and only uses it when needed, especially with other professionals

  • Avoids irritating others with too many emails or calls
  • Stays in close communication about significant matters, especially high-risk situations

Professionals minimize unnecessary risk

Understands the inherent risks in their work, but tries to lower or avoid them

  • Stays safe in their work environment
  • Doesn’t take any unnecessary risks
  • Avoids high-risk situations whenever reasonably possible

Avoids dangerous situations

  • Maintains perpetual honesty and authenticity
  • Stays safe from any excess or risk that could severely hurt their ability to perform
  • Avoids taking on responsibilities too far from their scope of expertise by deferring to other specialists

Slower to speak

  • Chooses words carefully to minimize misunderstanding or misinterpretation
  • Only speaks when they know it adds legitimate value to others
  • Avoids making promises or guarantees they may not fulfill
  • Avoids unnecessarily offending others and honors other cultures

Understands sharing professional knowledge has risks and rewards

  • Other people can misuse or abuse resources
  • Sharing processes may provide trade secrets

Professionals maintain a professional image, even among non-professionals

Dresses appropriately

  • Maintains appropriate attire for their work
  • Selects all clothing tastefully and sensibly

Always on time or early

  • Punctually shows up to events and meetings
  • Even without deadlines, sets personal deadlines and stays productive toward goals

Liberally uses tactful words when communicating and making requests

  • Please, thank you, you’re welcome
  • I’m sorry, my apologies, excuse me
  • Thanks people twice for a quality experience, first when finishing a meeting and again the next day in a thank-you note
  • Avoids insulting others, making offensive remarks or being rude

Communicates promptly and openly

  • Returns text messages as soon as reasonably possible
  • Responds appropriately to emails within a week unless they are urgent
    • Indicates who they are and contact information in email signatures
  • Returns calls within 24 hours
  • Leaves appropriate and professional voicemails
    1. Speak slowly to ensure the words are clear
    2. Immediately identifies self and callback number to allow the receiver to quickly hear it when they replay the message
    3. Address one or two topics per voice message describing the purpose of the message, not only a name and number
    4. State the main point by the third sentence, and be specific about it
    5. Indicate the best time to call back, record it as an appointment, and answer immediately to avoid “phone tag”
    6. The message should be under sixty seconds, so re-record (press #) if the message isn’t brief, starts rambling or you made a mistake
    7. Leave your phone number again to allow them to confirm or write it down
    8. Only leave one message and don’t leave any more
    9. Only mark it as “urgent” or try calling back if it is an emergency

Provides appropriate input for the context

  • Informs or commands when someone needs raw information or what they should do
  • Confronts strong beliefs the professional knows is wrong
  • Helps others express and overcome previously undisclosed thoughts or emotions
  • Enables others to reflect, discover or learn for themselves
  • Builds up others’ confidence by focusing on strengths, qualities, and achievements

Observes their work culture

  • Asserts themselves in a non-threatening way
  • Dresses in culturally acceptable attire
  • Uses the most appropriate cultural greeting
  • Expresses proper names and titles
  • Finds out appropriate and inappropriate customs for dining, gifts, and body language

Tactful in public

  • Avoids drawing any negative attention to themselves
  • Doesn’t publicly post internet content which conveys a negative image
  • Keeps mobile device on silent or vibrate and only answers at appropriate times
  • Uses moderation with drinking, eating, and physical exertion
  • Follows causes they genuinely believe in
  • Engaged in service and gives with personal time

Professionals avoid career taboos

Undermining their work

  • Doesn’t complain about their job or that they’re job hunting
  • Never describes someone else as incompetent
  • Doesn’t share how much money they make unless asked
  • Doesn’t express interest in someone else’s job

Getting too personal

  • Keeps political and religious beliefs to themselves unless context permits
  • Doesn’t share personal social media
  • Doesn’t share sex life or intimate relationship details
  • Doesn’t share experiences of their recklessness
  • Doesn’t talk about how drunk or drugged they become

Gossiping or violating others’ professionalism

  • Doesn’t share negative thoughts about others’ personal life
  • Doesn’t make offensive jokes

Professionals keep work and personal life separate

Doesn’t mix personal life into work, even when extremely comfortable

  • Naturally forms a work-life rhythm
  • Doesn’t flirt with co-workers or affiliates
  • Addresses professional connections differently than personal ones
  • Doesn’t take work-related offenses or professional reprimands personally
  • Keeps work and personal wardrobes separate

Doesn’t bring work into personal life and knows how to enjoy time away from work

  • Maintains professional distance with co-workers for personal social events
  • Has hobbies and interests which have nothing to do with work and takes weekends off
  • Prioritizes special occasions like holidays, family birthday parties, and childrens’ sporting events above work

Professionals take action if work and personal life mix too far

  • They always try to offset challenges from personal obligations while working
  • They learn productivity skills or hand off responsibilities
  • They’ll cut back their work week to meet personal demands
  • They may find a more flexible job or one which more accurately fits their life goals

A professional who becomes a workaholic has reached an imbalance in their life and needs to learn true success

Professionals confidently and tactfully respond to adverse situations

Always confronts problems with a solution or possible avenues to find a solution

  • Embraces personal responsibility to resolve bad news
  • Quickly owns up to a problem, then looks for answers

When mistreated or disrespected

  • They assert their ability to perform and know when to take their skills to a better job
  • When others are upset or jealous at their success, they’ll respectfully and openly circumvent the matter

Tactfully avoids unnecessary conflicts or resolves them diplomatically

A professional must have integrity

Stays morally pure

  • Never steals from employers or clients
  • Avoids cutting costs with illegitimate or dishonest shortcuts
  • Avoids dubious deals or questionable practices
  • Values trust, honesty, integrity, transparency, and propriety
  • Lives and works generously
  • Believes their hard work and altruism will bring justice

Believes everyone’s current circumstances are a product of their choices

  • Helps others from a genuine desire for others’ benefit without pity or guilt
  • Doesn’t compare self to others
  • Treats everyone equally

Immediately takes responsibility for mistakes and errors

  • Looks into self honestly and openly
  • Freely and respectfully asks for help from others
  • Accepts they can always improve at everything they do

Professionals network frequently

Fearlessly and seamlessly networks from a genuine desire for mutual benefit

  • Builds relationships on performance, not on conversation
  • Looks outside their company or group for opportunities

Transitions in and out of jobs seamlessly without burning bridges

Next: Level 2 Leadership – Working With Teams