Taking Initiative: What Are You Doing to Stand Out?

As much as you give to your clients (or customers or shareholders or mentees, etc. etc.) it’s amazing how much they give right back to you.

I was reminded of this yet again the other day when I was leading a strengths retreat for a bank client.

The president of the bank, let’s call him Ted, was telling me about how at the beginning of his career, he started at the bottom of the corporate ladder. In fact, the way he puts it, you wonder if he was even on the ladder at all!

The title sounded nice enough – “assistant analyst” – but it was the very definition of “entry-level.” So much so, he was positioned right next to the copy desk — I’m sure out of logistical necessity, given copying was probably among the foremost responsibilities expected of him in this role.

But Ted wasn’t satisfied with his spot next to the copier. He started to look around. What he noticed was a bunch of collection files stacked in bankers’ boxes. These were very old accounts that were just boxed away and forgotten.

The light bulb went on. He approached the higher-ups about going through some of those boxes and addressing those accounts. He got the seal of approval and went about the business of sifting through old documents.

Slowly but surely, Ted was the driving force behind the bank recouping dollars – dollars that otherwise would have symbolically remained in those boxes had he not taken the initiative to (A) look around and notice a possible issue and (B) take the initiative to address the problem.

After all those years, the boxes full of important information had been allowed to collect dust simply because no one wanted to do the grunt work.

It was that willingness to put in the hours, to go beyond what was expected of him, that led Ted to advancing into a collector role, then loan officer, followed by a decade as an influential and successful VP, and by the age of 42, bank president.

You may not want to be in your current position the rest of your life. I’ve been there. But what are you doing about it?

Do like Ted and look around. See what you can do to make yourself stand out.

What are you DOING — not just dreaming or talking about  – to make yourself an indispensible part of your organization?

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