Positioning for Success!
Margot Andersen, Owner and Director of talentinsight
Margot Andersen – Owner and Director of talentinsight, opened up Parity’s 2017 Career Strategy Day with a session centered on how to best position yourself for success. She talked through looking at what ‘positioning’ is really about, why we need it and why it is becoming more and more critical.
Margot shared that if you do not position yourself well, there is a danger in what people can assume of you, as well as a danger you can be overlooked or misrepresented.
Sharing insights is a classic positioning moment, where you should think about the way you are positioned every time you talk about yourself. As an example, Margot referred to your “BBQ Statement” – this is where you want to lean on your friends in your network in a social situation to help assist you. If you speak about your role as just a title at a firm, there can be a lack of understanding. You need to bring the human element into it by speaking about what you’re good at and your passion. Remember to ensure this ‘pitch’ is changed around for different situations – for example, you would not use your BBQ statement at a business meeting.
Why is your positioning so important?
Positioning is critical because if it is done the right way, it will open doors to many new opportunities and paths. But if it is not, it may affect you in ways you may not have thought about. For instance, how can people find you for your next role? If you don’t ‘own it’, somebody else will and when we miss our positioning, people will end up making assumptions.
Margot spoke about the value of positioning, and the steps required to ensure you get the most value out of it. They included:
Going further and faster:
You are accurately regarded for both what you can do and what you want to do. People will also then know how to find you.
Leveraging your skillset, knowledge and insights:
Play from a position of strength.
Feeling connected, empowered and in control:
This will boost your confidence and ensure you stay memorable.
If you have a strong positioning statement, it will involve the 3 I’s:
Who you are
What you do
How it is relevant to who you are talking to
VUCA and the changing world of work
VUCA is an acronym used to describe or reflect on the volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity of general conditions and situations.
We live in a much more transparent and connected world than ever before. We feel the need to feel safe in an uncertain environment and must learn a different dance to what we are used to. This is due to the rapid pace that the world is changing at.
If you take LinkedIn as an example, it is a space where you can state what you do but it does not necessarily speak to what you care about. You need to humanise yourself and talk about yourself, your interests, what you are passionate about and most importantly, what you are good at.
Margot also touched on job mobility in Australia, and went on to state that never before have we needed to be so agile and mobile in our careers: globally, internally, in the market place. But mobility isn’t easy, especially when it is about something so personal as our career – and especially if we haven’t driven the decision.
The market is changing and we are seeing more volatility than ever before – politically, economically and socially. We are also seeing that most professionals are working harder and smarter, as well as being more broadly skilled than at any other point in their careers. Another thing we are seeing is that the demographics are shifting where millennials will soon be the largest demographic in our workforce as well as holding the most leadership roles.
So, what gets in the way or prevents us from talking about what we’re great at and positioning ourselves for success?
Our Mindsets & Beliefs
Hate talking about self
Stories we tell ourselves
As a tip for those going into an interview, people that use the term ‘I do’ rather than ‘as a team we do’, seem to significantly do better in interviews, as it leads the interviewer to understand the exact role that they themselves played. There will be instances when you can only speak on what the team achieved, but you should be able to highlight what your part was and why it was crucial to the overall outcome of the project. This will assist the interviewer in understanding if the person has the capacity to lead in a particular role.
Making sure your positioning statement is well versed in truths is an important fact as pointed out by Margot, as well as ensuring that you can speak about percentages of what has occurred rather than exact numerical figures. For example, we delivered a 33% increase in revenue from our project for the company. This ensures the information comes across clearly to everyone.
The siloed way of thinking inhibits us from really displaying our capabilities – as people will hide behind
labels/job titles/masks and think that we are unable to position ourselves for the role as we haven’t done X, Y or Z. However, you should be able to include your soft skills that can demonstrate how you would be able to accomplish the key requirements.
Margot highlighted that effective positioning requires a solid career plan with a clear framework, underpinned by a strong network and stakeholder relationships. A solid career plan should include:
Great positioning can only occur when you have all 3 components together. Without awareness around one or more elements, you can all too easily find yourself missing opportunities because you have failed to recognise them.
“Luck is the moment that preparation meets opportunity”
Margot then focused on a slide of Simon Sinek and his inner circle diagram. Starting with your “Why” at the center ensures that you draw the connection between what you do and why you do it. Remember to keep in mind that your career is all about you, what you’ve done and what drives you to do it.
Why – make the invisible visible: YOUR PURPOSE
Just as very few organisations know why they do what they do, the same can be said for people;
Why do you love what you do?
Why are you so good at what you do?
“Why” is and should be a cause, a belief, a purpose.
How – specific actions: YOUR PROCESS
Ensure you can talk about what it is that we do.
What – results (of your why): YOUR RESULT
Speaking about the results that have been delivered.
One of the most dangerous questions is when somebody asks for a snapshot on your career, as you can end up talking for 10 minutes. However, if you have a planned positioning statement it can allow people to pick the parts that are the most relevant or interesting to them. If you can help somebody understand your picture it will have a lasting impression. Ensure that you really think about your words and how the language will be received. A good way to achieve this is by thinking about your positioning statement and how you can change how people may relate to it. It is here that understanding your audience is key.
Matt Church’s idea of the power of positioning is an effective way to demonstrate how to effectively change your positioning to both your best advantage and the situation’s best advantage. The three options for focus are to focus on You, It or Them:
- You (personal):
- It (activity)
- Them (outcomes):
Margot then gave some great examples of resources which may further assist in understanding the importance of positioning and how to go about it. They included:
Simon Sinek, Start With Why – How Great Leaders Inspire Action
Matt Church, Positioning 101
Future Work Skills 2020 Report
If you have any questions or would like a confidential discussion, please connect with Margot on LinkedIn. She can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org.
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