Leaders Know Their Value

September 30, 2010

If you and I met to have coffee for 30 minutes every day for the next year, could you share something with me that could help me address issues that matter to me?

I asked an owner of a service providing business this question recently, and after a long pause, her response was “I’m not sure.”  It was a leading question; I knew the answer before I asked it. I appreciated her honesty, but I’m not sure she appreciated how critical my question was.

Your value, what you can do uniquely well to help others, is your currency. If you are remarkably good at helping others with something that really matters, then you will merit fair if not impressive compensation and rarely want for work.

Those that know their value reap the rewards of competitive advantage, while those that are ambiguous about their value expose themselves and their organizations to competitive peril.

Knowing your value does not mean being able to tell folks how great you are. Knowing your value as a leader is the confidence that comes with having a crystal clear understanding of what it is you can do uniquely well to help others seize opportunities or solve problems that matter to them.

Knowing our value is not a feel good exercise. If you are not continuously testing your value in the market and the mirror, I guarantee you that you don’t really know what you need to know.

Related Posts:

Three Simple Questions For Bosses And Employees

Personal Branding: Why You, Why Now?

Personal Branding: Document And Target Your Value

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Comments (10)

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  1. Bret,
    I could not agree with you more! In the services industry, all you have is value. And not just the run of the mill “here’s how I will force fit you into my process” type of value. To be truly successful in the service business, you really have to craft your value around the customer’s pain points and more importantly their latent needs.

    From both a market research and marketing perspective, business owners tend to focus too many resources on customers/prospects expressed or evident wants/needs and not enough effort digging a bit deeper into their customers’/prospects’ latent or unconscious needs.

    Thanks for another great blog!

    Bret L. Simmons Reply:

    Excellent observations, Sharon. Too many of us really don’t know/understand our customer’s. I know I’m guilty of that too often. Thanks! Bret

  2. Bret,

    Thanks for another great video. From a personal perspective I took two things away from it.

    The first is having the confidence to believe in yourself. If you don’t have a perception of how much your knowledge can be valued by others you may not share it.

    The second is how much I sincerely believe in your comment about being a “life long learner”. It frustrates me to see people who don’t apply their knowledge and skills in new ways so they may continue to learn.

    Hope you are able to get out and enjoy the great weather in Reno,

    Bret L. Simmons Reply:

    Welcome, Gene! Don’t give up on that life long learning. It’s the zest of life as far as I’m concerned. Thanks! Bret

  3. Elizabeth Rickert says:

    Hi Bret,

    I go along with your take on the critical importance of knowing ones value, but I also want to write your potential coffee partner a permission slip to say “I’m not sure” about making key contributions to your specific “issues that matter”… at least, not until she knows more about what they are.

    Maybe having confidence about ones’ value is not the same as having clarity about whether your particular unique value contains solutions to a particular set of problems. Your coffee friend may have found, like me, that it’s not particularly advantageous to put your reputation on the line without doing due analysis to see whether ones particular talents match the project at hand.

    Bret, in the post above you’re not clear about what your “issues that matter” actually are, but if your friend suspects that they may in fact be outside her particular sphere of expertise, she may be wise to go in low on the radar until she learns more.

    Personally, I find it surprisingly advantageous to operate from a position I call foundational humility. This is my term for the state of self-awareness that knows and acknowledges ones stengths, but keeps a solid and perpetual understanding of ones limitations as well.

    I can bring the best of myself to any situation, but if I start to think that my presence in any situation guarantees an automatic win for the team, my value is likely over then and there — it has been subverted by my arrogance. Instead, I’s rather approach projects bringing the best of myself, but not assuming that my best efforts will always ensure the best solutions.

    Paradoxically, I have found that my contributions are most appreciated, and most sought after, in instances where I operate from this kind of a platform — one that punctuates my potential value with a question mark, instead of an exclamation point. This may be because, in my experience, when you operate from the mindset of foundational humility, the resulting mental and emotional balance just simply seems to allow more creativity and flexibility. Instead of needing to prove yourself, you can simply free yourself to address a situation with courage, logic, and enthusiasm — and the result is that you are more in tune with your intuitive inner voice.

    Oddly enough, in a state of foundational humility, problem-solving doesn’t seem like effort to me at all. I’m merely pulled along by my exuberant expertise, and my value almost always finds its mark where it can do the most good. It’s hard to explain. It just feels different, like I’m lifted by the heartfelt joy of contributing to excellence — rather than weighed down by a heavy compulsion to BE excellent.

    Bravery and bravado are not the same thing, are they?

    So maybe cut your hypothetical coffee partner some slack, and give her some credit for her (possible) perspicacity. Chances are that a person who displays such humility going into an ongoing dialogue will end up bringing greater ultimate value than the many who are ready to vow they can rock your world — before they know what in the world you need rocked.

    Cheers — and make mine hazelnut, with skim and Sweet N Low, please.

    Bret L. Simmons Reply:

    Elizabeth, thanks for adding that point about the importance of clarity. And actually, my coffee partner’s real problem was not confidence but clarity. She was not an insecure individual, she just was not at all focused on what she wanted to do. My question to her was meant to help her focus. Thanks!!! Bret

  4. Tammy Rogers says:

    The movie “Ground Hog Day” seems to be reality for many people. New day — same story.

    And if that is really how someone chooses to live their life — they DON’T have anything to offer — because they’re not growing. They’re not expanding their world. They’re not getting out of their comfort zone.

    We see ground hog “leaders” inside a lot of organizations including multi-national’s family-based businesses and non-profits. These kind of leaders create a culture of pessimism and then blame their lack of success on the economy or the competition or ….

    When a leader engages in life-long learning they are continually looking at new concepts and listening to new ideas. And just like most of us would prefer to see a movie with someone so that we can talk about it afterwards — Life-long learners seek out opportunities for discourse. And 30 minutes a day — well that would be a breeze!

    Bret L. Simmons Reply:

    Welcome, Tammy! love your comment about ground hog leaders and the culture they create. Thanks! Bret

  5. Scott Asai says:

    This has a lot to do with branding. Something that is a simple concept but challenging to pull off. I do like the idea of a 30 minute conversation daily. Your agenda should be focused on the person who you are talking to’s agenda. Our worth is ways is not determined by us, but by the people we interact with (once again tied to branding). Great gut check Bret!

    Bret L. Simmons Reply:

    Welcome, Scott! It is a lot about branding. Love your point about our worth being determined by those we interact with. Thanks! Bret