5 Tips for Becoming an Office All-Star From a “Corporate Oddity” Who Beat the Odds
by Joshua Coburn
With competition in the business world running at a faster pace and more competitive than ever, the need for new and creative leadership is rapidly growing. Fulfilling this need has resulted in an influx of new employees penetrating the corporate landscape. Frequently these employees are thrust into management positions untrained and ill-equipped for leadership. Below are five tips for standing out in the office, all of which have been advantageous for me and the executives I’ve modeled myself after in even the most conservative of industries. Because being a leader isn’t about who is forced to follow you, it’s about who fights to be on your team.
In business you are either moving forward or being left behind. While others are focused on gaining political capital and laying emphasis on their perceived social prominence, or lack thereof, my suggestion is to focus on being kind. I often hear that nice guys finish last, but I am also aware that the best team also always wins. I would rather invest heavily in being kind to others, giving support where it is due, and encouragement when needed in order to create a team of supportive individuals rather than spend the time worrying about gaining positive political capital. Invest in personal capital through actions and political capital through vocation will follow.
Give Credit Where Due
Throughout our lives we have been trained to work toward gaining the praise of others. On our little league baseball teams it was about the glory of winning the neighborhood pennant, later the splendor of straight A report cards, and as adults the majesty of being promoted to the corner office, all milestones that seem to gain envy from those who surround us. While all the hard work to reach these personal landmarks is commendable the feeling tends to be fleeting and unfulfilling. Fulfillment is found in deeds dedicated to others. Accept credit for the time you’ve put in, but heap praise upon those who assisted you in realizing your goals. Giving credit where it is due not only lends you credibility, it gives you sincerity. Sincerity affords you a dedicated team, a dedicated team points to success, and success as a team gives way to a fulfilling work life.
In that we are looking at the general corporate landscape, it is important to acknowledge that there are decision makers and there are those that fancy themselves decision makers. Those that fancy themselves decision makers often fail to accept the responsibility that comes along with positions of power. The decision maker is not only willing to accept the responsibility that comes with an appointed position, they thrive on both a decisions success and the knowledge gained from failure. Rather than avoiding the issues and the tough questions, hoping bad situations solve themselves, the decision maker considers his options, decides on a solution, and acts upon it. This simple, and seemingly obvious, observation is one many fail to acknowledge or choose to ignore, thus handing over executive positions to non-decision makers. There is no place in business, or leadership, for stagnant indecision. Be a decision maker, connect with other decision makers, and make decisions together.
A leader is expected to innovate, to create, and to propel business forward. There is only one possible way to achieve all of these feats- taking risks. Leaders will regularly avoid risk when business is good in order to pad a resume (who doesn’t want to be able to show massive revenue increases year over year) and enjoy the rich breezes of profit paradise. Sadly, for these individuals, industry runs of massive growth are not sustainable unless the dormant get vigorous, dynamic, and risk ready. At the end of a growth period, when sustainability relies on those that consider themselves decision makers who’ve naturally become risk averse, we see and experience massive personnel changes within a company. Meanwhile, decision makers willing to take risks, and reap both the reward and the consequence, are poised to climb the proverbial corporate ladder. Never allow for comfortable satisfaction on the job, always eye for excitement and change.
Trust Your Instincts
Data matters, but your instincts do too. Data is able to expose patterns & trends, to support business models, and provide a business direction. What may be more important is what data is not able to do, and that is show emotion. Passion, excitement, and a love for the game is why we all got into the avenues of business we are in. Those who have the hunger for their business will always be ahead of the curve, sometimes so far ahead that the rest of the world- even your current consumer base- is not even close to reaching the destination you’ve reached. Data cannot predict the next logical step when the next step for the industry is dictated by cutting edge consumers with the same hunger; a hunger that may not have a next logical step at all. This is when your passion as the ultimate consumer in your market, your knowledge of your customer base, and your instincts for the business congregates. Innovation is created by passion, excitement, and a love for the game. Your gut will guide your next steps when data won’t.
According to the Meriam-Webster Dictionary, the definition of extraordinary (ex·traor·di·nary) is “going beyond what is usual, regular, or customary.” The leaders I have modeled myself after in business are extraordinary because they have gone above and beyond what is usual by integrating these five tips into their life. Whether you’re a CEO at a Fortune 500 company or taking your first job at the local deli, be confidant in yourself, trust your instincts, and treat others well. Your bold, but kind efforts won’t go unnoticed. Soon you’ll find people joining your adventures in the office, and more importantly, in life.
A former ground-breaking body modification artist and small business owner in the Midwest, Joshua Coburn has made the drastic shift to corporate America as the Promotions Specialist at Brownells Inc. During this time period, Coburn also developed the small production company, Provoke Productions, through which he wrote and released his first book, as well as two albums from the regionally successful hard rock band “Freaklabel.” His second book, 2007’s Through the EYES of an Abstract Mind, soon followed and, in 2013, Coburn released Inspiration on Demand, the culmination of a project called #ihelpedchangealife. #ihelpedchangealife was born out of Facebook friend’s and fan’s requests for a book of Coburn’s daily quotes, which he posted on his social media platforms to assist in remedying his own struggles.
Today, Coburn actively speaks to junior high and high schools, youth and church groups, college classes, and various state departments on subjects ranging from body modification and tattoo culture to career planning, self-confidence, peer pressure, and self-actualization. He has also been featured on local, national and international television programs. For more information, please visit www.joshuacoburn.com.