Leaders: Don’t hide your YOU-niqueness

There seems to be lot of transition happening right now.

I’ve heard from more leaders in the past three days wanting me to review their cover letters and resumes, and prep them for interviews – than in the past three months!

Of course, transition is not limited to job search:

  • Successful leaders may have just accomplished a big milestone and are now looking for ways to shift their leadership style out of crisis/turn-around mode to a more sustainable way of leading (without having to leave their current organization).
  • There are leaders who may be hoping for a promotion or have just moved into a new role and are feeling like they are still being viewed as the person they were when they first joined the organization – and their true value is not being recognized.
  • Executive Directors and Board Presidents may be looking at how to transition their organizations from recently completed strategic plans to a new chapter for their organization, or may be navigating a shift from being a working board to a governing and fundraising board.

As you read this, think of your transition scenario and the Next Chapter you want to create.

And, since I don’t know your specific situation, for the purpose of this article, I’m choosing 2 observations and 3 strategies that can apply no matter what your scenario.  (Of course, when I work with clients, we go deep into the nuances and create a wide range of targeted actions that are catalysts for shifts and successes.)

OBSERVATION 1:  You/Your Organization are not like anyone else.  But you may sound like you are.

OBSERVATION 2:  You/Your Organization are not in Status Quo.  But you may sound like you are.

When I was leading executive searches, it was suprising how most cover letters from qualified candidates (and even their phone interviews!) all sounded pretty much the same:

  • Same skills…
  • Same linear way of talking about their accomplishments and industry-recognized metrics…
  • Same way of expressing their goals and desires for their next career move.

I also notice this same-ness when organizations create job postings, publish brochures, write appeal letters, or even create board meeting agendas:

  • They sound like every other symphony, theater, opera, museum, or non-profit in their field – listing all the things they do, and how we can buy it or support it.  [And yes, there are also many examples of organizations doing a great job at differentiating themselves.]

What’s often missing in the messaging? 

  • The messaging doesn’t clearly convey what the listener/reader (really) wants and needs to hear and know. It only conveys what the author wants.  Cover letters and interviews convey why the applicant wants the job rather than painting a picture so enticing that the interviewer thinks “I want that!”  Appeal letters convey why the organization wants donations, rather than tapping into what the potential donor will feel and receive. Board meeting agendas are a mundane series of report-outs.
  • The messaging doesn’t convey your unique approach and transformational impact that you have when you are leading in your ideal situation, doing your best – or when your organization is firing on all cylinders.
  • The messaging doesn’t create the sense of exciting movement – of having a strategic trajectory of impact – of conveying the answer to “why now?”  When applicants talk about their transitions, they recite their resume; rarely providing a narrative that – in hindsight – reveals a pattern of impact, purpose and intention. Organizations often communicate event by event – transactional, with no overarching purpose.
  • The messaging doesn’t fully enroll or engage others into supporting you/your organization as you work toward something that really matters.

Why is this a big deal? 

In some cases, it may not be a big deal.  In fact, describing ourselves in terms of what we “do” is how most people and organizations talk about themselves – and most are successful.  However, if you are leaving interviews feeling the questions didn’t reveal your true value, or you aren’t advancing in the search process, or you don’t feel valued in your current role, or your organization’s contributed revenue is declining, or you’re not attracting the caliber of applicants you are seeking, or, or… then something needs to change.

The solution?  Shift your language – by first knowing the “ripples of impact” you create when you do what you do, in that unique way that you do it.

And then?

Communicate it!  People need to know what problems you solve, what you can help them do or feel, and when and in what circumstances, and why doing that or feeling that matters.  All SO THAT you can attract (or be attractive to) the people/organizations that can benefit.

Begin bringing the questions and answers of impact, trajectory and intention into your thoughts and communications.

  • Develop your personal Impact Vocabulary, and incorporate it into networking events, cover letter and interview responses, or to elevate your bio or social media profile, or use it to ensure that you are valued in your current role or industry: “What occurs as a result of me raising all those donations?  Or in directing that play? How do I make people feel?  What difference did that make to others? What did it all make possible?” 
  • Jump to the Impact Punchline when developing your organization’s next job posting, brochure, appeal letter or curtain speech. “What happens to our audiences as a result of our high-caliber performances? How do they feel? What possibilities does that create in their lives? And why does that matter?”  Lead with that!
  • Share your momentum in terms of impact to paint a picture of success, where you are in your career/organizational life cycle, and your value and intention (purpose/mission).  “Here’s where I/we are, and here’s where I’m/we’re going!” More than saying you want a new job or a more engaged board, what will achieving that goal make possible for others? Now THAT’s going to be inspiring, and you’ll enroll and engage others to help!  

When I guide boards and staff through leadership transitions or help them achieve big goals, or coach successful leaders to create their dream career (life), this Impact Visioning and Languaging becomes the foundation and the inspiration for our work together.

You may also find the following blogs helpful:

I’m on a mission to help you unlock and speak your impact so that you can live in your unique purpose (in a financially, healthfully, emotionally sustainable way!). Together we’re creating a movement of leaders making a difference in the world.

How will you communicate your impact when you do what you do… in that special way that you do it?  I love to hear from you – post your comments below!   

To your success,


P.S. – Are you at an important crossroads in your career?  Are you feeling stuck or boxed in or frustrated? CLICK HERE to learn about my first ever, self-paced, on-line, fully-guided, interactive program!

Recommended Posts