Have you ever been passed over for a position you really wanted? Or overlooked when it came to a project you desperately wanted to be involved in? Wouldn’t you like to become the one who the powers-that-be of your company simply cannot do without?
Well, the simplest way to do this is by increasing your strengths. Today, this term has different connotations: it’s no longer about just doing what you already know better but also about cross-training. For instance, an experienced marathon runner may not significantly increase his running speed by doing mundane stretching exercises or running over longer distances. What could help him achieve his goal, however, is swimming or bicycling.
In the case of you as CFO, dabble in complementary skills to make yourself more well-rounded. You have in-depth knowledge of finance and taxation; consider learning more about IT if the CIO reports to you. If you tend to focus on results, consider building relationships. If your integrity is being taken for granted, consider developing assertiveness. The results will be dramatic.
The question arises: how do you increase your strengths? Let’s take it step-by-step:
1. Know Your Strengths
The process starts with identifying what your current strengths are. Take some time to introspect and make a list that covers them as succinctly as possible, preferably in simple bullets. You could request your immediate bosses and subordinates for specific feedback. Consider using a qualitative and quantitative questionnaire; the former enabling them to point out your strengths and weaknesses in brief and the latter letting them rank these on a scale.
Once you have the results, don’t try to be a fix-it-all. The secret to making yourself indispensible is not being a jack of all trades but master of a few crucial ones – those that overshadow any weaknesses you may have. Even a single outstanding strength could make you an obvious choice when compared to competitors who are good at a variety of tasks but exceptional at none. They are replaceable; you won’t be!
2. Choose Your Focus
So, you have decided that you will master a couple of strengths. But which 2 should you choose amongst say, 10 great ones?
The answer lies hidden in your responses to these 2 questions:
1. Which do you feel most passionate about?
2. Which is important to your business?
Both questions are equally important. If your selected focus doesn’t contribute to the growth of your business, it becomes a pursuit of leisure and is of no use to you professionally. Then again, if it is of immense use to the company but doesn’t spark any interest in you, it will turn into a frustrating and energy-depleting chore.
One way to arrive at a convergence is by listing your top 5 desired competencies and your organization’s top 5 priorities. The 1 or 2 that match should become your focus.
3. Develop Your Complementary Skill
Now that you have a complementary skill on which to focus, make an action plan to develop it. Returning to our first example in which you want to develop technical proficiency in IT, consider undergoing formal training, meeting with technical experts and reading manuals and publications related to the product.
If done right, you should see the first signs of improvement within 2 months’ time. Ensure that you are progressing a little more every month. Eventually, your newly gained skills will shine through of their own accord and enhance your existing strengths. And you will be well on your way to becoming indispensible!