November Blog

 Is your career stuck in a rut?

2014_Misty_Moore_2Can your professional presence help advance your career? According to Debra “D.A.” Benton, it can. As a working mom in my mid-thirties, I like so many other working parents, struggle to be a good parent while working to advance my career. When I reached out to a former supervisor for advice, she handed me Benton’s book. A long flight to Phoenix afforded the time to read it.

Now more than two decades old, “Lions Don’t Need to Roar” is filled with tips and tactics for fine-tuning your presence and performance to stand out, fit in and get ahead. In the book, Benton bases much of her advice on personal experiences and path to advancing her career. She adds credibility to her guidance by citing examples and quotes she gathered from more than 100 chiefs representing various industries.

Before exploring the countless ways one can improve their presence, Benton emphasizes she is not suggesting readers become someone else, but rather become a more conscious, purposeful and positive version of themself. She also notes many of these skills and behaviors can be learned and polished.

The book is divided into three parts. The first focuses on standing out and making an impact. The second emphasizes the importance of fitting in. And, the third centers on how to fully develop one’s abilities and talents.

In Part One, Benton focuses on making a good first impression, especially within the first four crucial minutes. Some suggestions include making eye contact instead of lowering your gaze when passing others in the hallway, keeping a relaxed jaw (and jaw and feet), and pausing when making an entrance. She also suggests you maintain good posture, use a pleasant-assertive voice, and most importantly, listen.

In Part Two, Benton explores the art of relating and fitting in and interacting with others. Some ways you can do that is by building relationships, telling stories (including sharing personal experiences) and employing humor.Lion

One of the most powerful illustrations of employing humor was an anecdote shared by one of the chiefs she interviewed. In his story, the CEO talked about a couple who lost their home to the arson fires that caused millions in damages in Santa Barbara during the summer of 1990. Upon returning home, they noticed the only thing standing was a door frame with a deadbolt mechanism still intact. As they walked away that day, the husband turned to his wife and said, “Don’t forget to lock up dear.” Priceless!

In the final chapters of the book, Benton explains how to use “guts” and “smarts” to get ahead. She describes guts as a combination of confidence, courage, conviction, stick-to-it-iveness (my favorite), to name a few. She stresses the importance of having courage to make decisions and take risks. One chief said, “There is a huge difference between being number one and number two. Number one is a decision maker.”

Overall, Benton’s “Lions Don’t Need to Roar” offers countless ways to improve, or at least become more aware of our professional presence. As communicators, we have to make an impact (stand out) and relate to others (fit in) to be successful. The insight and examples Benton shares in her book relate well to our profession. I hope a few resonate with you, and that you will apply them when the opportunity arises.

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