Is standing out by presenting a unique brand bad for your career?

Grasp the true nature of business competition and you’ll see that the performing arts provide a better analogy than war or sports. There can be many good singers or actors — each outstanding and successful in a distinctive way. Each finds and creates an audience. The more good performers there are, the more audiences grow and the arts flourish. This approach produces positive sum competition.

Michael Porter’s opinion on what constitutes real competition from the HBR article “Stop Competing to Be the Best” by Joan Magretta

Porter’s observations regarding competition are interesting in that it allows for everyone on the business stage to shine as a unique light.  While this makes sense on so many levels, is it really practical in the trenches of everyday business, especially during a difficult economic period when job security usually tops the list of what is most important to fellow workers?

In an article from earlier in the week (8 Qualities of Remarkable Employees), the fear of stepping forward and standing out through the presentation of a unique personal brand was emphasized when one reader wrote; “It is precisely these “remarkable” qualities that get me in trouble on the job.”

This raises an important question . . . is an organization’s management ultimately responsible for creating an environment that encourages proactive, out-of-the-box thinking, and if they are indeed responsible, how do they engage one employee without alienating another taking into account the unique capabilities of a diverse workforce?

Here are my tips for managers who want to create a positive environment where individuals are encouraged to shine both individually as well as collectively keeping in mind that while money is obviously important, studies clearly show that employees value above all else the belief that they are making a tangible and meaningful contribution:

    • Praise from immediate managers, leadership attention (for example, one-on-one conversations) count. When great work is shared publicly, the impact is multiplied for the employee.
    • Look for these opportunities for greater exposure and be quick to hand out the well-deserved praises on a one on one.
    • Don’t micromanage when they are the experts.  Show trust.  Make sure you are not just giving people work that needs to get done but work that energizes them.
    • Brainstorming works: new perspectives can improve and build on an initial idea or approach. Make the individual feel safe that they can be honest with you. Don’t make people wrong for their advice or perspectives.  Create safety in the work community.
    • Create a culture of education. Arrange for your employees to attend development programs, not just focused on their technical skills but to help them to feel that they are growing.  Provide funding for courses not being offered at your company.
    • To help your employees to be the best they can, invest time and scheduling to offer direct feedback on how they can maximize their presence, talents and relationships.  Creating actionable plans will enable your employees to measure their own achievements and be able to keep you informed on how they are doing. This builds their confidence and makes them want to have the courage to make a bigger difference.

One final thought . . . the cultures within which we work are so serious, perhaps too serious.  Laughter should be encouraged . . . so people are not paranoid about messing up.

Does your personal brand stand out?

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About piblogger

Author and Host of the PI Window on The World Show on Blog Talk Radio.

6 responses to “Is standing out by presenting a unique brand bad for your career?”

  1. Dr. Susan Biali, M.D. says :

    I really liked this, thank you! Simple yet so valuable, and very actionable.

    • rozcoach says :

      Dear Dr. Susan Biali:

      Thank you for your kind words. With your expertise, I consider this a huge compliments.

      Take care.


  2. zubram says :

    A good post

  3. Marion Croft says :

    Excellent advice for those with eyes to see and ears to hear! Judge not that you be not judged is a quality I try to live by. I have learned to live according to what’s inside – not what other people think. I once was sending an email to a co-worker about my manager and I accidentally sent it to the entire company! I did survive this error and learned attention to detail is paramount.

    Best regards,
    Marion I. Croft

  4. Bjorn Nilsen says :

    In direct response to the question “Is excelling at work and standing out from your co-workers bad for your career? “, I’d like to share thoughts posted in a recent LinkedIn Question/Answer/Discussion:

    As the article indicates, the work environment which company leaders foster or allow to exist will have direct bearing on a “yes” or “no” answer.

    Clearly, company leaders, especially those that set the tone and character of an organization have to be fully engaged with all employees – both good and bad! Employees that perform and add value to an organization should be recognized and rewarded appropriately. Employees that do not perform well or, at the least, to a known and firm standard, should be encouraged to improve their performance or seek other job opportunities.

    The real tragedy happens when leadership fails in its actions and emits nothing more that “vaporware” with regard to performance – again, both good and bad. Excellent performers may succumb to peer pressure and adapt to the unhealthy environment in which they find themselves – no one wins! At best, the employee discovers the true nature of the organization and takes their skills to more rewarding endeavors and healthier environments – at least in this scenario one of the two parties has the opportunity for success.

    An interesting article and one that company leadership should ponder honestly.

    • rozcoach says :

      Your perspective has been shared by many since you posted this. When leadership resists “walking their talk” and honoring their people, they set themselves up to fail. Without job security, employees today have no problem looking outside of their companies for employment. Making employees feel valued creates a win-win for everyone.

      Thanks for your insights and maybe with your posted message, you have helped bring a greater focus to the issues at hand.

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