A hallmark of wisdom is knowing when it’s time to abandon some of your most treasured tools — and some of the most cherished parts of your identity.” ~ Adam Grant

If you and I have worked together, you know that I’m a big proponent of telling stories about your accomplishments that can apply to different contexts. In other words, we seek to reframe your professional value in ways that matter to people who matter — the people who will pay you for the value you bring — bosses, hiring managers, clients, customers.

When people want to “level up” in their careers, they often rely on old habits and methods that are not helpful in the quest for a leadership role. This includes how they speak about the value they bring to an organization. They depend on the skills and behaviors that initially brought them success. 

Reframe: What Got You Here, Won’t Get You There

It’s essential to frame one’s leadership voice–one’s unique value — in a way that decision-makers see you as an asset to the organization, not as a commodity. 

The higher you go in your career, the more problems become behavioral. As you rise, everyone is smart, capable, and accomplished.  The renowned executive coach, Marshall Goldsmith, explored how beliefs and habits affect career success. His basic premise: Those beliefs that served you well so far in your career, won’t help going forward to where you want to be. In fact, you may have certain habits that hold you back from achieving your career goals.

What made you a great subject matter expert, won’t make you a great strategic asset. At some point, it’s not a value to be the smartest one in the room. It’s of more value to be the wisest person in the room. That’s a whole different skill set.

Reframe Case Story: Liz M.

Liz is an expert in Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). Except she doesn’t see herself as an expert. Oh, she knows her stuff. She’s taken plenty of trainings — some even international ones with real recognized experts — and she’s participated in a number of ADR sessions. But what she really wants to do is teach. She wants to be the one that presents classes in her particular practice of ADR.

Liz has synthesized what she’s learned from her training and her practice. She’s developed some really interesting thoughts about the field, especially in the area of law enforcement and community relations, which relies heavily on FBI-influenced concepts.

During some COVID-related downtime last year, she wrote a paper that disputed a key factor of the Bureau’s practice and offered an alternative approach. She shared her thoughts with some of those international experts under whom she’s trained, and they validated her ideas.

Liz self-published her paper in an online forum, where it’s been downloaded several thousand times. Interestingly, she’s found herself quoted in subsequent publications, unfortunately, without attribution. 

Liz has shifted from having expertise in ADR — knowing how to conduct ADR sessions — to being a thought leader in the field. 

The problem is, no one knows that — yet — including Liz. She’s seen herself as someone who is just good in her chosen field, who spotted a flaw in an established practice. Now, though, realizing how widespread her idea has been circulated, she’s aware that she has “leveled up” her value. 

Liz is working on another paper that builds on her initial draft; one that she’ll publish on an established platform. This time, though, she’ll attach her name and contact information to the piece. And she will market the heck out of it — posting excerpts on LinkedIn and elsewhere. 

What About You?

How can you reframe your skills to express more value as you seek the next level in your career?

How do you go from being really smart about what you do to being wise about what you have to offer?

Send me an email at scott@scottwoodardcoaching, and let me know. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

A version of this post was sent earlier this year to my email newsletter subscribers. If you’d like to get my best work first, subscribe to the newsletter. I NEVER share your information, and you can unsubscribe at any time if it’s not a good fit.

If you’re struggling with how to achieve your career goals let’s chat about how I can help. You can use this link to my calendar to schedule the best time to talk.

Image copyright: jopanuwatd