“It’s your job to uphold the dignity of this profession and you have to start by honoring and respecting yourself and the contribution you make, at whatever level you make it. Languishing in self-pity and helplessness are a waste of your time and talent”, Says Jan Jones, author of ‘The CEO’s Secret Weapon’.
In support of Jan’s comments I would like to offer comments I wrote for Executive Secretary Magazine some time ago, but are still relevant today.
BY CATHERINE MIDDLETON ON SEPTEMBER 25, 2018
How you see yourself is how others will see you says Catherine Middleton
Professionalism is many things, how we look, how we do our job, how we interact with people. It is about how people see us, and perhaps more importantly, how we see ourselves.
How would you feel if you were boarding a flight, and saw the pilot dressed in jeans and t-shirt? Would you feel comfortable, would you feel confident at their level of expertise to get you to your destination? How we present ourselves will have an impact on those we interact with every day. Good grooming instills confidence, and as a representative of any organisation, it is imperative in creating a professional image.
If you want to be taken seriously, personal presentation should be ‘sharp’ from head to toe, from a ‘brushed’ hairstyle to clean shoes. Appearance is important, especially when interacting with colleagues and customers, as it creates an image of someone in control.
Being proficient in all things technical, ensures that you are seen, as the ‘expert’ earning you kudos for being effective and efficient. Responsibilities often include extensive diary /email management / preparing reports / presentations/ researching / drafting advice / reviewing correspondence and actioning phone calls at an executive level, whilst also possessing strong communication skills. This list is by no means extensive, however gives an idea of what is expected when supporting an executive.
How others see us will determine the strength of our working relationships. Unfortunately, people’s perceptions are their reality. They see a situation or a person from their perspective, so it is important to build rapport with colleagues to ensure they see us as we really are, and not by some ill-conceived idea they have of us. By using an inclusive communication style, strong relationships can be built, to ensure that the whole team understand who you are, your role and responsibilities. They will then come to realize that you are approachable, and willing to offer your expertise to assist the team.
The other side of the coin is how we see ourselves. If we present professionally, are technically savvy, and able to communicate confidently at all levels of the organisation, there is no reason to downplay our expertise or standing in business. We should be proud of our profession and what we bring to it. By exuding this confidence, we are accepted as being a professional; someone who is seen as an integral member of any team. How you see yourself, is how others will see you.
A true professional will be innovative, someone who thrives in a diverse and inclusive culture. They are resilient and a natural influencer. They build relationships and champion the way things are done. They demonstrate initiative and possess business acumen. It goes without saying that they also possess exceptional prioritization skills. More than all of that, they have the innate ability to make others feel a sense of calm in their presence.
Professionalism isn’t something that happens overnight, it is a trait that takes time to perfect. It may take many years of experience, both good and not so good, to create the awareness and emotional intelligence that is thought so highly of by executives, who themselves need high performing staff to support them. It is about the pursuit of excellence.
It doesn’t matter where you are on the career ladder, it is never too early, or late to create the image that will take you forward in your journey toward excellence in your chosen field. It may be as simple as changing your thought processes to being more positive.
Stand tall, and make sure your image reflects the person you aspire to be. Speak confidently, treat people respectfully, and build your expertise. These attributes will augur well for your future, and instill confidence, not only in yourself but in those around you. Professionalism promotes a high-level status for those willing to invest in themselves and their profession. It is a not negotiable, it is a must have attribute for any career minded individual. Always striving to be the best you can be, will generate a rewarding career in any field of endeavor.