My five-year-old spent three days a week this past summer at a kid's camp where physical and mental "fitness" and creativity were the essence of each lesson.
The design of the program was such that activities changed every 20 minutes to allow a four-hour day filled with stimulation and versatility. This very original program was created by a devoted, energetic couple with six "counselors" in their employ. The counselors related to the children quite well and Sam often referred to them as his "friends".
The husband-and-wife team, however, were not referred to in that way. When stories were told of them, Sam spoke with respect and even reverence; sometimes relating moments when one or both of them complimented him about something or liked the shirt he wore or his new tennis shoes.
I observed that even at the age of five, there are elements of professional equity that are recognizable and deserving of respect.
If we accept this premise and realize that strategic managers in business are more than likely strategic managers of their lives, a formula comes together that is pretty foolproof.
How does one refine the skills and assets required to groom himself/herself as a true professional? I find there are two types of assets -- determining and contributing -- and it is the combination of the two that equate professional equity.
Determining Assets + Contributing Assets = Professional Equity.
Professional Equity x Effort = Professional Success
As people grow in a company, they eventually find out which leaders and professionals are persons of substance and which are simply "faddish" and based strictly in elements of style.
While neither is a bad trait, the combination of the two -- substance and style -- is truly dynamic. The true student, looking to hone his craft and refine his "product," finds that these elements are actually powerless when not used in tandem.
The determining assets include the following:
Credentials: Earned educational and professional degrees, honors and designations that are distinguished and accumulated as verification of your ability.
Reputation: What people think of you and what you've done. What they say about you when you are out of the room.
Track Record: What you have actually done. Verifiable facts about what has been accomplished. To ensure your track record, follow up on official records or photos that are taken and make sure your name, attendance and participation are noted.
Communication skills: Are you articulate, fluent and do you exhibit strong vocabulary in your verbal and written communication? "Articulate" is another way to say "connected." Do you know current jargon, syntax and how to utilize those terms? You should read every day and remember the major rule about communication in business -- "Be clear. Be brief. Be gone."
Effectiveness: This includes self-management, interpersonal abilities and sensitivities. Can you "shut it off" at five and enjoy your personal life? The best managers can and manage stress this way.
There are three "missions" to avoid regarding effectiveness. They are:
Omission: Not doing what has to be done.
Commission: Doing what doesn't have to be done.
Emission: Always saying the wrong thing at the wrong time.
Job Knowledge and Skills: The depth of knowledge and specific skills you have in your career and your specific job within your career. Consider your staff. Do they need more seminars or do they need more of your time and management to help them think, solve, apply and learn your direction and vision.
Ethics: Do you tend to compromise your beliefs and values easily? Are you trustworthy? Try to remember that unethical behavior makes you weak and weak people make poor decisions. Your conscience has a lot to do with how you perform ethically.
Balance: In the seven life categories (mental, physical, social, financial, career, family and spiritual) do you find equilibrium? Do you believe in something greater than you? A meaning of life and a purpose for living? This has impact on your decisions, path and your success.
In support of the determining assets are the contributing assets. These are the foundations that make the determining assets stand up...
Personal Appearance/Action: Do you project an image of competence, confidence and pride in your work? If someone were to see you out of the work environment, would you be proud of how you appeared or were conducting yourself?
Work Habits: How efficient and effective are you in your job? Are you disciplined? Would people speaking about you categorize you in a complimentary way?
Demeanor: The way you conduct yourself and how you convey your level of maturity and willingness to be flexible. Maturity shows clearly in how one handles stress. Stubbornness is childlike. If you often act that way, people associate that with your position on issues and it affects the way they approach or avoid you.
Attitude: Are you a pessimist or an optimist? Are you cheerful or too serious? Do you drag your problems into the office or do you take problems from the workday home to upset your family?
Breadth of Knowledge: Are you narrow minded and boring? Do you have a wide range of interests? You should be constantly seeking ways to increase awareness. You can travel by watching educational television. Become a curious student of life.
Associations: With whom do you associate? You become your environment. In many Asian cultures, the rise of success has few elevators to the top. Rather, the journey is a winding, all encompassing staircase that forces you to stop at each floor and mingle at all levels from the ground up. The lessons you take with you into management are therefore experiences, not just book-learned theories. It is critical to think about challenging oneself in this category. If you play tennis against someone that you always easily beat, your game gets worse but play against someone better and your level of play improves as you rise to meet the challenge.
Relationships: Having contacts with valuable, high profile, high impact people is desirable. These are not just the friends you "hang around" with. These are people that are credible and with whom you must have credibility. They should respect your thinking not just appear as if they do.
Tenure: The length of time in a position becomes important as it is contrasted against the degree you are lacking in other assets.
If today's manager continues to seek the proper mix of these assets and sets his/her professional course for the accumulation of these accomplishments, the result will be sound, professional equity, which is an outstanding foundation to maintain a reputable career.
Combine that foundation with a consistent and persistent effort and professional success and a sense of true, personal accomplishment will be inevitable.
The author wishes to recognize Anthony John Khuri, lecturer of Business Administration at Baldwin Wallace College, Berea, Ohio, for his influence on the formalization of this theory.
Ronald D. Ciancutti is the purchasing manager for Cleveland Metroparks, a metropolitan park system that encircles Cuyahoga County and includes more than 20,000 acres of natural land, six golf courses, seven nature centers, a variety of special interest facilities and the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. Ron can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.