Professionals seek out the help of a business coach for a variety of reasons- lack of happiness at work, frustration in trying to motivate others, their struggle to attract new business, time management challenges, etc. Business challenges come in many shapes and sizes, but at the core of solving all of these problems, is a single master key to success- know yourself.
You have a unique background, have a distinctive set of interests, talents, and passions, operate in a highly individual set of ways, and have the power to define success in your own way. It is from these unique individual differences that powerful leadership strategies are born.
THE BEAUTY OF UNIQUENESS
When you understand yourself, it becomes much easier to find or create the circumstances to make yourself happy. When a leader in an organization has an in-depth understanding about the people on their team, it becomes easier to build on strengths. Armed with the knowledge of what makes you or your organization unique, you can develop a plan that leverages, and then communicates, how you are different.
In business, a differentiated business plan will motivate and attract the right kind of employees and customers. Nobody wants to buy from, invest in, or work for an organization that does the same thing as the one across the street. When a business knows how it is distinct, it becomes easy to talk about their uniqueness with credibility and passion.
WHAT THE GURUS HAVE TO SAY ABOUT KNOWING YOURSELF
A clearly defined identity “enables smaller units within large organizations, or neighborhoods within large cities, to have their own vision while still being encompassed by the collective vision.”. . .The Leadership Challenge
Kouzes and Posner, authors of “The Leadership Challenge“, state that people most admire those leaders with clear and strong beliefs. They add “You can’t believe the messenger if you don’t know what the messenger believes. People expect their leaders to speak out on matters of values and conscience.” They challenge with the question “how can you speak out if you don’t know what to speak about?” They advise that to speak effectively, it is important to find your own true voice.
Joe Calloway in “Becoming a Category of One” tells us that “Your customers see you as a commodity, just as they see every other business out there. You will continue to be seen as a commodity, and be forced to compete on price, until you do something that transcends being a commodity in the customers’ eyes. Only when you differentiate yourself in a clear and powerful way can you become a Category of One company. What do you really stand for, when it comes right down to it, what’s really important?”
Peter Montoya in “The Brand Called You” explains why this is not an easy task. “The trouble is differentiation goes against our natural human tendency to blend into the crowd, to emulate what others do because it’s safe. For a Personal Brand that lets you dominate a market, you must go in the other direction, telling others why you’re different from the crowd.”
The challenge is not only to understand how you are different, but then to gain the courage to start doing more of the things that make you come alive. How do you uncover your unique leadership identity, find your own voice, pinpoint core values AND gain the courage to stand out?
The truth is that the process involves time and soul searching. There are many methods that are useful to help identify your uniqueness. Journaling, drawing, assessments, gathering feedback from friends and relatives, surveying clients, and focused questioning techniques can all be great starting points. Peter Drucker, in a 1999 article titled “Managing Oneself”, writes about a technique called feedback analysis that involves tracking key decisions and comparing them with results in order to identify strengths. There is no one right way; the more you engage in various self-discovery activities, the more insight you will glean.
The process of discovery can be challenging to do on your own. It may significantly enrich and shorten the process to work in partnership with a professional coach or mentor that you trust and respect. A coach can help you look from new perspectives, see into blind spots, and create a safe environment for you to practice your new voice.
Look inside and discover who you really are, and open the door to meaningful success.
Written by Helene Mazur
Helene is the founder of Princeton Performance Dynamics, an executive coaching and strategic planning facilitation company for business and non-profit leaders and their teams. Helene’s passion is helping her clients to focus their goals, see new perspectives on their current situation, put in place realistic, motivating plans, and execute to achieve new levels of success.
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