How to play an uncomfortable role on the corporate stage
When we take on a job, we take on a role. Sometimes the role requires a characteristic that does not come naturally. For instance, you may be given responsibility to produce a monthly report for which you must rely on other people to finish their portions for you to complete your task. This may require you to play the role of a project manager of sorts.
Perhaps you have been promoted to a managerial position, and though you are very knowledgeable about the processes, you may now have to learn to become a trainer and coach to ensure your team members are competent.
Maybe you have grown to a point in your career where you should be speaking up and making a greater contribution during meetings, but previously that was not your role and you have become comfortable sitting in the background.
When we do not play the appropriate role, we diminish the way we are perceived professionally.
How do you effectively play your role and incorporate attributes that are not second nature? A big part is being intentional. As trained voice actors, when required to deliver a script we were given an emotion to convey. One of the tools we learned to use was intention. Through having a clear vision of what we wanted the listener to experience, we learned to express the emotion by feeling it. It is amazing how differently we come across when we have set an intention.
Our instructor would often give us the liberty to make a choice. The same script could be read in a myriad of ways, but once we made a choice it formalized our delivery. We could choose to be angry, annoyed, anxious, excited or whatever, and the same script would take on a totally different meaning with each choice.
Much of what I have learned in acting school proves very valuable to my clients as they learn to effectively navigate the corporate world.
When you are given a job, you are required to play various roles, many of which are unspoken but expected. However, your performance is being judged on how well you deliver.
I challenge you to create a list of every role you are required to fill to be effective in your position and assess how you are doing in each. Your position may require you to be a diplomat, a project manager, a galvanizer, a creative thinker and more. Also notice how others perceive your role; for example people may look to you to be the organizer, initiator or voice of reason.
Note the areas where you are falling short. You may discover it is because you were never intentional about playing that part. It may be something for which you are not naturally inclined. If that is the case, make a conscious decision to add that role to your professional persona. We have many dimensions to us. As a professional, you may need an extra edge that is not required with your family. The bottom line is you can decide what you want to be.
I read about an executive who called herself by a different name when she needed to be brave. “Bonnie” was strong and brave and could handle situations that intimidated her. She became Bonnie when she needed to play a role that was outside of her natural character; with a little practice it can work for you too.
If you have inhibitions about public speaking in the workplace, send me an email to get information on my upcoming workshop. I am committed to helping professionals star on the corporate stage.
• Kim Welcome is the CEO and founder of Influential Voice. She assists businesses and professionals to develop deliberate, skillful, polished communication skills to increase their impact and influence. Her clients range from the country’s largest and most prestigious employers to public figures and individual professionals. Feel free to contact at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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