You’ll never be good at the things you’re bad at.
In other words, you can’t choose what motivates you at work any more than you can choose your height or your family members. You can’t make yourself be outgoing if you’re shy. You can’t force ideas to materialize if you’re not intrinsically creative.
None of us chooses external factors like economic upheaval, competitive threats, disruptive changes, and mergers & acquisitions, either—obstacles that often stand between you and your career goals.
You can, however, choose how you comport yourself.
Organizations are always looking to identify high-potential employees. Focusing on the following three areas of self-management will not guarantee a promotion, but they could help you increase your perceived value to your employer—and the higher your perceived value, the more likely they are to invest in you.
1) Composure under pressure. Regardless of the power dynamic between you and your stakeholders, staying composed shows that you are in control. It earns you respect, sets the tone, and increases others’ willingness to follow your lead. It’s contagious—in a good way.
2) Self-awareness. Someone might be perfectly capable of performing their work, but the rest of us only experience their loud personal phone calls that echo through the building, oblivious comments that insult other team members, and tiresome questioning of others’ statements.
A self-aware person monitors reactions and considers how their words and actions affect everyone else. If you’re not sure how you are perceived, ask for honest feedback—and don’t argue with what you hear.
3) Adaptability. Technology changes fast, as do consumer preferences and market trends. It’s inevitable that a business will have to revise systems, strategies and policies to follow suit. Resenting that change is a surefire way to be labeled an outmoded dinosaur.
Instead, ask questions, get ready to update your understanding when new information comes to light, and volunteer to be part of the solution.
4) Professionalism. This one’s about maintaining integrity when executing your responsibilities, respecting people at all levels of the organization, and embracing the ethics and best practices of your profession.
In fact, openly expressing a personal philosophy of professionalism in a job interview can make a favorable impression on a prospective employer.
We may never experience the picture-perfect work environment. But taking a self-managed approach is smarter than letting the churning tide carry you off. See what happens when you become your own high-potential employee.
5) Ownership. No matter where you are on the organizational chart, from entry-level employee to CEO, make your tasks your own and deliver on your promises. This doesn’t mean you have to fall on a sword when other people screw up, but it does mean accepting praise and criticism alike—and not passing the blame for setbacks onto others.
6) Desire to learn. Everyone likes to be the expert and to feel confident in their skills, but if there’s a recurring theme for the 21st-century business world, it’s “change.” To stay viable and valuable, it helps to keep an open mind, look for cross-training opportunities, and show an eagerness to gather insight and expertise from the people around you.
This goes for senior managers, too. New hires just out of college or trade school have been exposed to methods and philosophies you haven’t thought of. Being open to new ideas doesn’t undercut your authority—it strengthens it.
Eric Baker is a writer and editor at Caliper.