I want you to take a second and look through this list of words and select those that describe you professionally.
Wonderful. Now I want you to take a look at this second list of words and check all that apply to you professionally.
Did you notice a pattern? My guess is you checked ALL the positive words. When it came to negative words, you might have owned them for a moment, but wouldn’t say you’re “known” for them professionally.
Am I right?
We’ve had thousands of people work with us on the straightforward question, “What am I known for?” We’ve learned that we ALL think we’re known for all of the positive words, and none of us want to be known for any of the negative words.
Unless you’re a first-time reader, you’ve also heard me say, “Every decision made about you and your opportunities is made in a room you’re not in.” It also means that if you’re in a room making decisions for your company, you’re the person talking about other people and their ability to be the right resource to help with whatever it is you’re discussing.
And is every member of your organization the same? Would you use all the words to describe them? Weren’t you all the words when you did the exercise for yourself? There’s no reason why every individual on your team doesn’t feel exactly the same.
It’s a bit of a conundrum, every person on your team is unique in their way, and yet every person on your team believes they are “all the words.”
Here’s the other universal thing I’ve learned from working with thousands of people, every single person I’ve worked with wants recognition for their unique value. And I’m not talking about a trophy or some amazing award; I’m talking about the simple act of being seen for who they uniquely are.
As a leader, you have the power to manifest this ask. If you’ve had someone do it for you, especially when it’s your manager, you know the positive impact it can have.
What you need to consider is that the Millennials are right, we are indeed special snowflakes. Each person on your team is unique.
Now you could go out and decide what words you should uniquely use to describe each member of your team. I’ve made it easy for us both — here’s a link to an article with 250+ words you can choose.
But your job is not just to tell people what to do. Your job is to optimize the talent on your team. Which means you should consider who they could be as much as who they are. And unless you’re a tyrant, shouldn’t you be talking to your team about who they want to be?
We work in a world where we use labels to describe so many things, including people. Isn’t it time we all started considering how we label ourselves and each other? Shouldn’t we remember that, when it comes to both the positive and negative words, we are not “this” or “that.” We are nuanced and complex.
We are unique, delicate, and beautiful, like a snowflake.
PS. You don’t think I would leave you and your future out of this conversation do you? I have some ideas for you too.