People yearn for recognition – to contribute to the success of whatever they do – seeking to become an integral part of their organization, their relationships or their interaction with others – hoping that their ideas and opinions will help make a difference. If we fail to establish a “case” for our inclusion by doing the same things that have always been done in “tried and true” ways that may be effective but lack innovation, we will probably be seen as important but not critical – a necessary evil or potentially an identifier of the problem but not an essential part of the solution. The first step to relevance – to becoming integral – should start with some serious thought about the things that DO NOT create personal credibility.
Information is rampant in today’s society. Electronic communications, on-line searches, magazines, newsletters, trade journals (even newspapers, believe it or not) are available to anyone opening their mail or turning on their computer or subscribing to a news or information resource. There has been a proliferation of “personal coaches” and “relationship managers” seeking individuals that can be convinced they need to be led down a narrow road to success. The market is flooded with “self-help” books and “how to” manuals attempting to provide wisdom, experience or role models to a searching public. With all this data, information and opinion available, why would anyone need someone to interpret the material so that it can be appropriately used? Unfortunately, merely finding material, data or examples of how others have become successful will NOT add to personal or professional credibility in today’s information age. In order to become integral we must help learn how to APPLY the information available in a manner that will effectively promote excellence – knowing what to use, what to minimize, what will “work” and what will not be acceptable – if we are to become relevant in our relationships.
To become a part of the solution (rather than simply an ongoing part of the problem) one must learn how to ANTICIPATE THE NEED for a solution by knowing enough about a situation to predict what might go wrong (OR what could actually “go right” and needs to be advanced). Just “doing” your job, or filling in space and time with conversational words rarely provides the insight to become an integral partner. One must delve deeply into the inner-workings of an operation to fully understand it – to give more than they might receive in a relationship to fully appreciate it – if he or she is to become a trusted and valued partner. Do not recruit from a job requisition or job description – learn about the job as if YOU were going to perform it. Do not generate policy simply because someone feels it is needed – find out why the need has been perceived and make sure the policy being requested really addresses the root cause of the problem (rather than treating an annoying or highly visible symptom). Do not be the first to say “I am sorry” or “It was my fault” (unless that is the truth) – be honest and open with your admissions, always seeking how to fix what may have gone wrong and how to keep it from recurrence rather than assigning (or assuming) blame if you seek a sincere relationship between equals. The first step towards “becoming integral” is to become knowledgeable of situations, environmental influences, cultural impediments and value requirements before acting.
If information, data or examples of successful behavior were all that the world needed, why would it need you? Whenever you are asked to give advice or answer a question, ALWAYS respond in a way that adds value to the data you find and the information you give by interpreting it into something that can be understood and applied to resolve an issue recognizing the cultural, ethical and situational parameters of your audience. This interpretation may differ depending on whom you are dealing with – be it an hourly work team, an executive management group OR a personal (or family) situation of significance – but YOUR relevance will be based upon the value you give those to whom you communicate and the RESULTS (intentional action) your advice initiates. Since your success is often dependent upon another’s ability to implement, NEVER give information (examples or advice) and walk away. We must equip others with the tools needed to successfully take action after identifying a path upon which they will travel if we are to be seen as effective contributors. If we are not actively leading we must “get out of the way” so that others can succeed – we must monitor and observe (rather than telling and directing), honestly “not caring” who gets the credit as long as an appropriate solutions comes to fruition.
In order to be seen as integral to anyone or any process we must identify root causes and seek workable (acceptable) solutions while focusing on the “ends” (as we seek to acknowledge and influence the “means”). Information without application is like a tire without air – it may be “there” but not really useful to anyone (UNLESS you are a tire swing manufacturer or you design/install boat bumpers). When we put air in the tire it becomes a tool. Showing others how applying information to resolve a problem or advance an effort helps create an invaluable tool that can become a repeatable process “owned” by others (so you can move on to identify and resolve other issues or concerns). Your investment in developing others to identify issues, apply their abilities (or expand their knowledge so their impact might increase) and initiate intentional action will provide unparalleled returns. Becoming a part of another’s solution (rather than a solution to another’s problems) will help you to gain (and retain) credibility, integrity and respect.