Over the years as a business person I’ve been accused of having favorites in my company and in organizations I’ve led.
It’s completely true.
There are some people I call on more, I mention more, I shine the light on more, people I call first for opportunities, names I mention first in a list of resources when asked for referrals, some people get more mentions from me for sure.
If that’s what having favorites looks like then I am completely guilty.
What I’ve found curious though; while few have come to me and expressed their observation or dissatisfaction directly, some whisper amongst themselves and none have ever asked what does it take to become a favorite?
Within a week I will transition out of leadership of an organization that since 2007 has made a profound impact on my business and my personal life and has opened dozens of doors of opportunity as I became one of the most influential business leaders among women in my city.
I’ve learned a LOT over 20 years of leading teams, running my businesses and facilitating more than 100 events just since 2011. I’ve learned much about myself, negotiating with venues, what really keeps women up at night about running their business and the dynamics among women in business. My leadership was far from perfect (I still don’t know what that would really look like – but it seems reasonable to presume).
To be clear, I never set out to have favorites – there were just some people who “earned favor” by exhibiting the following 6 characteristics – 6 distinct characteristics that my parents instilled in me:
They were generous and tolerant – generous with their time and resources always asking what they could do – even after a string of time when I didn’t have anything for them to do. They were tolerant of me. I’m human. I make mistakes. I drop balls. They picked them up and handed them back and said, “don’t worry”.
They were reliable – when they said they’d do something they did.
They treated everyone with respect - even when they found someone curious or “not their cup of tea”
They dealt with problems openly – something was bothering them about me or a situation in particular. They reached out and had what sometimes where uncomfortable conversations when they started, but always turned out quite well for everyone.
They offered more solutions than complaints – when something didn’t sit right with them they came to me and expressed what was up for them and would provide an idea or two about changing what was dissatisfying. If it could be changed and seemed like it was in the interest of the greatest good then change was made, and if it couldn’t be implemented I was able to explain and they understood why, because they had come to talk with me.
They were workers not shirkers - Just being candid, they got sh*t done. They came early, stayed late and did the things that few others wanted to do.
From my side as a leader the intention was never favoritism, it was about support, reliability, camaraderie and teamwork. I am eternally grateful for each person who steps up, lends a hand, stops by with that thing I need before I even knew it, provides a solution, a workaround, speaks up and stands out.
Not because they want the recognition, but purely because the felt their actions were in alignment with who they are and they felt they could serve.
I’ll suggest that if you are desiring more recognition, connection, maybe even referrals to grow your business look at the above principles and begin living by them every day.
If you are in an environment where you desire to be a “favorite”; the one whose name is mentioned the I’ll suggest going to the leadership of your company or organization and say, “I’m here to serve and support, I’m reliable and have great ideas, I’ll offer more solutions than complaints and I’ll get sh*t done. Now put me to work.”
I promise you it all takes time. Be committed for the long term and soon you’ll find yourself a “favorite”. And when you do continue to let others know there is plenty of room for favorites.
If you are in Bellevue or Seattle and are interested in meeting the amazing women of eWomenNetwork I’d highly encourage you to register today for the March 17th Women’s Success Summit with Sandra Yancey.
I’ll be introducing the new Managing Director, Erin Loman Jeck and looking forward to participating as an attendee again.
Maybe if I play my cards right, I’ll be a favorite with the new leader. ;-)
Debbie Page Whitlock is a business coach and leading authority on cash flow for women entrepreneurs, and writes on all things related to creating sustainable, scalable and potentially salable businesses and other useful bits of business wisdom she’s acquired on her 20 year entrepreneurial odyssey.