It may not seem like an easy task but there actually numerous ways in which we can take ownership at work. You may have wondered: How can I be more confident in vocalising my thoughts and ideas? How can I be a more influential and effective team player? How could I demonstrate leadership? How do successful entrepreneurs approach challenges and deal with setbacks? And what could I be doing differently to take ownership at work? Here, Mikaela shares with us her insightful advice on thriving and taking ownership at work with a few scenarios given from our readers :-
- “I have some ideas that I want to pitch but I don’t want to sound too ambitious and aggressive…”
There is nothing wrong with being ambitious. In fact, ambition should be encouraged and facilitated in the workplace. If your company doesn’t do so, I would question whether it is where you want to be or whether that culture and environment is going to serve you long term. But what you should be taking into consideration when pitching ideas is how will it benefit you, the team, and the business. Putting forward a clear and well-thought out business case for why your ideas should be acted upon will increase your chance of that actually happening – give the decisionmakers as little room or reason to say no! And even if worst case scenario your idea doesn’t go anywhere or isn’t viable at that time (I would ask for feedback on why, what your boss would need to hear from you to get a yes, and a timeline to take into account); you will still have demonstrated initiative, professionalism and the pitch will have served as an excellent tool for self-promotion.
2. “I find speaking up at work intimidating, I’m not confident with my ideas and opinions… What if I get disliked for speaking up?”
Many people have a fear of or find speaking up at work intimidating. There are often a few key reasons as to why this is the case. Firstly, let’s put things into perspective; if you are feeling this way you can more or less guarantee that there will be at least one other person in the room, on your team or in your workplace that will be feeling just like you do and probably far more!
In a meeting setting, we often put an incredible amount of pressure on ourselves to come out with something intelligent and compelling. I would suspect that the reality of this is extremely rare, even in the most innovative of companies; so alter that thought process and remove the pressure – value does not need to equal earth-shattering divine wisdom!
Naturally, who is in the room can often make the situation more daunting i.e. if your boss or senior colleague are present. But remember, they were in your position once so don’t let that be a factor to put you off. Instead, see it as an opportunity to connect with, learn from and be visible in front of people that could help and further you.
If an idea or opinion does come to you but you faulter or it isn’t the right moment, write it down and bring it up when you can – your colleagues will still be glad to hear from you and could really benefit from your contribution, in fact not sharing could be doing them a disservice (pointer: take the focus off you and place it on the value).
If you know about the meeting enough in advance, pre-meeting prep is always a good idea. That way you will have time to think through and word your ideas and opinions in a way that you feel ready to present and bring to the table, providing they are still relevant. If you have a tendency to be more introverted or are more of a deep thinker I am sure this will bring you some relief! Also, I guarantee that most people will not have done the prep so it could be a brilliant opportunity for you to take ownership at work and shine.
Another way to have real impact on thriving and taking ownership at work can be to ask a question, it is what I do for a living so I know this to be true! Questions can sometimes be more powerful than a statement; but even if it doesn’t seem like a thought-provoking one, asking someone to tell you more about something and explain what they mean could offer real insight for the group, give you a deeper understanding and help to flesh out or dispel an idea early on to make the meeting more effective.
Most of us want to be liked but worrying about what people think of you will not gain you the respect or adulation you crave. Being true to yourself, adopting a growth mindset, being willing to push out of your comfort zone, demonstrating courage and your value are far more likely to do so. And I guarantee, it will be far more rewarding in the process.
- “I want to work on a new project that is challenging to me, but I’m afraid I won’t perform well…”
Great things never come from fear or comfort zones and if you aren’t prepared to step outside of yours then you will never experience the growth, accomplishment and reward that doing so could bring. Instead of worrying about the potentially negative ‘what if’s’ – ‘What if I don’t perform well?’ switch your mindset to the positives – ‘What if I learnt something that could further me in my career?’, ‘What if the best possible outcome happened?!’. Identify what those positive project outcomes would look like for you, your team, boss, the business and then create a plan to make that happen. This doesn’t have to be done alone (i.e. with your boss or project lead) and doing so, breaking down the task at hand will make it feel far more achievable and will help to remove the fear, worry, overwhelm and unknowns so that you can approach it in a logical and productive way. It will also give you the opportunity with your boss or project lead to set expectations and measures for your performance.
Trust me, if your intention is to do as best as you can, then that is what you will do! And remember, if you haven’t done the tasks before, nobody will expect you to be an expert but they will respect you for giving it a go. And who knows, you might even surprise yourself by discovering a new strength or bettering a skill and it might even pave the way for a promotion or bigger exciting projects!
- “I want to make sure I understand every aspect of the project without asking too many questions…”
I love the quote by Benjamin Franklin: “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail”. If you don’t have a clear understanding of the project, then you won’t be enabling your project’s success. Plus, I’m sure those involved would rather you ask questions and get it right rather than assume and get it wrong or be left feeling unclear. But it can also be how you approach doing the question asking. Of course, it is likely that questions will arise throughout the course of the project, but great preparation could be make the difference from minimising holds up and frustration to maximising project flow, efficiency and creating the best possible outcome. If the question asking and understanding can be gathered and done alongside the project planning in an initial meeting whereby you have your boss’ or the project leads’ full attention and expectations are mapped out, then you should be set up for success.
- “I failed on the previous project and now I don’t feel motivated to take on any challenges…”
Firstly, what does failure mean to you and what does it look like for you? For me, the only real failure is if we neglect learning and taking something away from our experience. Again, this really is about your mindset. Most if not all highly successful people have experienced failure, the difference between them and the rest is how they bounce back from those setbacks.
With regards to motivation, the questions I would be asking are: ‘What challenge could I take on that would enable me to learn something worthwhile for my development or career progression?’, ‘What could happen if the project met or exceeded my best expectations?’, ‘What reward or recognition could taking on this challenge give me?’. If you can identify the positives, the initiatives and the compelling reasons ‘why’ you are taking on the challenge, then your motivation should be there. If you are not willing to take on a challenge in spite of setbacks, you will never experience the real sense of accomplishment, fulfillment, reward and recognition that come with it and that boost motivation for future projects and goals. Accepting defeat will do nothing for your confidence, self-esteem or career progression.
- “I am the leader of this project, but I don’t want to appear commanding. What can I do?”
Different leadership styles work for different people and environments. Think about what kind of leader you would like to be and then look to develop and demonstrate those qualities. If being commanding is what you want to avoid, how could you be or what approach could you take instead to take ownership at work? For example, your desired approach might involve being collaborative and open-minded to ideas from the team. What I would say is, if you are leading a project you will need to be prepared to demonstrate leadership in some form and that may require operating in a way that isn’t immediately comfortable to you. You may not want to be commanding but you may need to be assertive to ensure things get done. But being assertive doesn’t mean being confrontational or domineering in any way. And if your intention is not to be those things (i.e. commanding, confrontational or domineering), then you won’t be. Rather than focusing on what you don’t want, figure out and embody who and what you do want to be and that will translate and serve you in all aspects of your life, allowing you to thrive and take ownership at work.
Interested in working with Mikaela? Visit www.shealmighty.com to learn more about her programmes, workshops and events. Connect with Mikaela… Twitter: @_shealmighty / Facebook: @shealmighty / Instagram: @_shealmighty