I run the track at our local high school. Towards the end of the summer, the Fall sports programs begin and the student athletes start to work out with their coaches. I love to watch the girls’ soccer team practice, because I played soccer during high school and college.
I was a forward, a striker. I loved the game and that position, because a striker’s responsibility was to do what it takes to score goals for the team. I will never forget my first goal, I was a freshman in high school. The ball was coming from the left side of the field and I could tell as it approached me that it would be placed perfectly in front of my right foot. As the ball was mid-air, I told myself, “Doris, you are going to kick the ball and score a goal. I kicked it and it went high, over the goalie’s head and into the net. The next thing I knew my teammates surrounded me, hugging me and cheering. We won that game.
As I was running the local track, the girls and coaches took the field for stretches and warm-ups. A latecomer arrived and was walking across the field towards her team. As I watched her, I thought to myself, ‘Gee, if that were me and I was late, I would be running towards the team, apologizing to the coach and getting my butt on the field as quickly as I could.’ Just as I finished my thought, I heard the coach yell to this girl, “You better be running, not walking!” She immediately picked up her pace and ran.
Prior to the coach “advising” her to run, what was she thinking? She could see she was late; all the other girls were already warming up. What made her think that she could just walk over; why didn’t she have a sense of urgency? Whether she knew it or not, her body language was speaking volumes on her behalf and it wasn’t speaking positively. She appeared to be saying, “Yeah, I’m late, so what, I’m here now.” I couldn’t believe she needed the coach to tell her to hurry it up.
What does your body language tell your management and co-workers? Do you have an appropriate sense of urgency, or do you wander around? Are you present in each conversation or are you mentally checked-out? Do proactively interact during team meetings, or do you sit quietly while others are sharing their ideas? What we do and how we do it says a lot more to the people around us than just our words.
Monitoring ourselves is key to how we present ourselves as leaders, role models and someone worthy of promotion. What we are thinking and feeling on the inside does not remain there. When thoughts or attitudes are negative, they present themselves in the form of lateness, detachment, unawareness, distancing, poor quality and the list goes on. We may think we are fooling people because we show up each day and complete our tasks, but we are only fooling ourselves. Everyone around us is aware and can easily see that we are not totally engaged in our work, with the team, or the company.
Here are three ways to monitor how we present ourselves to others:
- How we think is typically how we behave. We own our thoughts and attitudes. Don’t like what you are thinking, you are the only one that can change it. Take responsibility and ownership for negative thoughts and attitudes. Focus on your strengths, your abilities, and your goals. Think positively, and you will act positively.
- Our beliefs will allow us to flourish or remain stagnant. If you believe you won’t be successful, you won’t. Time to banish those limiting beliefs in order to achieve further success. If you don’t believe in yourself, why should anyone else?
- Carry yourself as if you have achieved the next level of career success. Managers promote individuals, who are already performing at the next level. Raise your standards, hold yourself accountable, and do what you say you are going to do. By performing at a higher level, you will make it easier for management to take notice and eventually promote you.
Next time you aren’t speaking, what are you telling the people around you?
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Doris Braun, Leadership Development and Executive Coach, helps women business leaders promote themselves, transition to new leadership roles and take on new career challenges. Follow her on www.LeadershipSolutionsforWomen.com and Twitter @dorisbraun.