Posted by Brian McCullough
Want Motivation? Find Out What Others Value About You
Here’s a crazy idea: get a few minutes on your boss’ schedule and ask him or her why they hired you. If you own your own business, ask your key customers why they do business with you.
Years ago, when I was working at a newspaper, I wondered why I had been successful in getting a job for which so many people had competed. But I was too scared to simply ask. So I waited about three months, and when I was confident that I’d done a great job and shown myself to be valuable to the company, I finally pulled over my new boss and asked her why she’d hired me.
The answer was uplifting, of course. She told me good things she’d perceived about me that had made me a strong candidate, and crowed a little about how her judgment had proved right.
But her answer was also enlightening. I knew I had several strengths, having been trained in the newspaper business since I was fourteen years old. And some of the strengths I knew about (and had emphasized) were included in her list of reasons for hiring me. But some of those strengths weren’t! And some of the main reasons she gave for hiring me spoke of strengths I didn’t even know I’d had.
Before I’d asked the question, I knew that I was valuable to the organization. But the “shape” of that value… the real things that my boss valued about me… was a little different from what I expected.
These days, many of my clients want to be more inspirational leaders. One of the things I suggest to some of them is to ask their bosses why they’d been placed in positions of leadership. And sometimes, when appropriate, I suggest that emerging leaders ask their clients and charges why they look to them for leadership. The answer usually gives a person a sense of their own value, and the learnings they take away almost always afford them some level of surprise.
Sometimes a client will say he’s too scared to ask the question. But the fear is almost always foolish. Is your boss going to answer by saying “I have no idea why I hired you… and I now question my own decision?” Absolutely not. If that answer is even a possibility, you know it instinctually, and of course the relationship between yourself and your job is probably already broken.
The other answer that would be uninspiring would be if the boss responded “Well, frankly, I was desperate to find someone to fill this job, and you were enough of a sucker to take it. That’s why I hired you.” If that’s the answer you get, RUN (don’t walk) to the computer and brush up your resume! You are not in a good situation! But you probably know that response is highly unlikely, as well.
So find out what your real value is. Only then can you make informed choices about how to deliver on the promise your boss (or key customers) saw in you when they made the decision to choose your brand of leadership over those of your competitors. This is as vital to the employee-manager as it is to the executive running a business unit or the entrepreneur. The most successful leaders know why people choose their leadership, and they continue to develop that “brand” (and adapt it as the market changes) to maximize their success – and that of their business.
This is a guest post. About the author:
Michael Hume is a speaker, writer, and consultant specializing in helping people maximize their potential and enjoy inspiring lives. As part of his inspirational leadership mission, he coaches executives and leaders in growing their personal sense of well-being through wealth creation and management, along with personal vitality.
Michael and his wife, Kathryn, divide their time between homes in California and Colorado. They are very proud of their offspring, who grew up to include a homemaker, a rock star, a service talent, and a television expert. Two grandchildren also warm their hearts! Visit Michael’s web site at http://michaelhume.net