I have advocated through my books and training sessions, about the need for everyone to reach “practitioner status” in their chosen area of specialty. Recently I conducted a coaching session with a gentlemen who had been suspended by his employer for unacceptable performance and unprofessional treatment of customers. Whilst I have never dealt with the employer before, the condition for reinstatement, given to this man, was that they must come back with proof that they had been trained by the same person who trained ExtraCity Luxury Coaches (my clients in the passenger transport business).
The man somehow managed to get my contact details and began his campaign that lasted for 4 weeks (He could not get to see me as I was travelling a lot during that month). Initially he tried to convince me to sell him a certificate! I advised him, that was not going to happen and that he had to attend a workshop the next time I held a public one. After calling me and sending messages after every two days during the four week period, I finally created time to meet with him in between prescheduled commitments. Our first discussion was a counselling session. (It was not just about me getting the cash and him getting the certificate and his job back!)
“Education consists, not so much of knowledge, but of KNOWLEDGE effectively and persistently APPLIED. Men are paid, not merely for what they know, but more particularly for WHAT THEY DO WITH THAT WHICH THEY KNOW.” (Henry Ford)
How much knowledge and skills have you been exposed to, over the many years you have spent on earth? Compare that with the portion you are actually putting to practical use. How do you become a Practitioner?
1. Become the primary user – like a medical practitioner, legal practitioner, professional footballer or one who runs an accounting practice, you must daily use the knowledge and skills you have acquired to add value to your clients and stakeholders. I take what I do so seriously that I strive daily, to be the number one implementer of the principles I write and train on. Evaluate your own level of implementation.
2. Become an agent for impartation – become a teacher, a coach, an author or an advocate promoting and imparting knowledge to others who may benefit from your indepth knowledge and skills. Write a book or a paper, give speeches and presentations on your area of specialty. As you develop others, you are also growing and sharpening skill. When I wrote the book, “5-Star Customer Service – In Pursuit of Service & Hospitality Excellence” the aim was to impart the knowledge and skills I acquired over the decades of practice and to advocate for improvement of both service delivery and customer care. How can you promote your own area of focus?
3. Adopt Effective Systems – discipline yourself by crafting personal and corporate systems that empower you to use your knowledge and skills in a systematised fashion. Adopting a systematic process of knowledge practice will enable you to avoid the trap of drifting to your comfort zone, as the latter will make you avoid practical implementation of new knowledge and skills. Force yourself to be an effective implementer.
Personal Brand Development
1. Technical Competence – Develop your job-specific skills and demonstrate your ability to deliver with excellence. Study, research and acquire all the knowledge and certification you will need to be competent in your chosen area of specialty.
2. Emotional Intelligence – Technical competence, without growth in Emotional Intelligence will easily limit the effectiveness of your personal brand. As aptly put in the book “Primal Leadership” by Daniel Goleman et al, the four elements of emotional intelligence are critical in your “practice.” These are:
a) Self Awareness
b) Self Management
c) Social Awareness
d) Relationship Management
3. Expert Practitioner Status – As you begin to practice your art/expertise, the execution of your responsibilities and tasks must reflect the following qualities:
a) Authenticity – whilst you can learn from others and customise to build your unique style and brand, you must be wary of becoming a copycat. You can never be the best at being someone else – each of us is unique. Grow the depth and breadth of your knowledge and skills – become a trusted source. Seek to be the best of you – you are one of a kind! Let your brand remain authentic.
b) Relevance – always consider the needs of your market and the real-life challenges your brand seeks to tackle. Getting excited about your pursuit whilst forgetting to link it to the issues and stakeholders who will ensure it translates into value, will make you produce great lab/research findings but with a product or service that has little or no market value. Sharpen the quality of your skill and knowledge. Is the path you have chosen, in building your brand, leading you to become relevant? What current or future needs will you become relevant in addressing?
c) Accessibility – the best of inventions and discoveries will add no value to the world or the innovator if they are not accessible to the consuming stakeholders. Create the right platforms for your brand to shine. How accessible are you to those who will benefit from the practice of your expertise; those who will give return value for your product or service offering? ICT solutions and the internet have turned the world into a market, accessible to everyone – how positioned are you, to take advantage of the available platforms to grow the influence of your brand.
Brilliant, that you have some certification or qualification – but what are you doing with it? Get some coaching, as you execute your personal development plan, put in place a peer review mechanism. It’s your personal responsibility – don’t be lazy at it….you possess great potential and it’s time you turned it into value.
In my next post, I ask the question, “Are African Executives and Professionals Lazy or Just Stingy?” So look forward to that and hopefully we can start doing something about issues coming out of this article and the next one!