Gladiators in Action: 5 Ways to Avoid Scandal in Your Career

Take a cue from Olivia Pope's team of fixers to avoid professional travesties

Scandal's gladiators are at it again. (Image: File)

Thursday nights are exciting for many due to the very popular television series that airs on the ABC network, “Scandal.” In some respects, actress Kerry Washington, who plays Olivia Pope, serves as a source of entertainment and inspiration for many professional women.

As a regular viewer of “Scandal” and nationally published career development resource who strives to encourage professionals to maximize their personal brand and career passions, Jaimee Ratliff (@whatjaisays) believes that there are valuable real-world lessons on crisis management for your career.

Understanding this insight is particularly crucial for interns and young professionals because they can avert career disasters from transpiring early in their career if they realize that certain behaviors and actions can be detrimental to their long-term success. Nonetheless, despite where you are in your career journey, the more polished your career record is the easier it will be for you to achieve big goals and build invaluable business relationships.

Here are a few tips Ratliff shares:

1. Know your end game: During the initial meeting with her clients, Olivia Pope always asks clients where they see themselves at the end of their crisis. She uses this feedback to help strategize her plan of attack.

“Similarly, every internship or job you take should align with your ultimate career or business goals,” Ratliff says.  “Knowing where you ultimately desire to be in your career within the next five to 10 years helps to ensure that you don’t steer too far off your career path at any point.”

2. Always tell the truth: Dishonesty is intolerable for Olivia Pope & Associates. As much as Olivia wants to help every client that walks through her office doors, she insists that they are honest about everything at all times.

During your career, your boss or a client will frequently come to you with challenges, and you will be responsible for finding solutions. This is when your skillset will be tested. As management will trust that you can deliver optimal results, never lie and say you have expertise in an area that you don’t. It’s always best to be upfront about your abilities and inabilities because the truth will eventually emerge over time.”

3. Don’t speculate. Verify. Olivia’s team of gladiators are a well-connected group, and they understand the importance of identifying the right source to get accurate information that is vital to fixing each situation. With each piece of evidence they find, they vet the information for verification purposes.

“It’s imperative that you always do your due diligence when it comes to your work,” Ratliff adds. “You should never assume everything you are told and everything you read is true. Any project or report you are tasked to create should always be well researched and the facts should always be double checked for accuracy.”

4. Don’t take everything personal. Olivia Pope is a very thorough boss who is a stickler for details; and her gladiators understand that. She is very assertive and expects nothing less than the best from her team. The gladiators also have thick skin and don’t take their boss’ orders as a personal attack. They always do their job and deliver optimal results.

“As a professional, remember your place of employment is not a place of emotional refuge. Managements’ key objective is often to increase the company’s revenue and/or expand its mission,” Ratliff says. “As such, don’t become overly emotionally vested in your professional affairs. Always position yourself where you can easily and amicably leave your company for a better opportunity that’s aligned with your career goals.

5. Remember, nothing is off the record. When the gladiators interact and speak with news reporters they are cautious about what they say because they know anything can be quoted. Once something is quoted, the chance of it appearing in the news is extremely high.

“Likewise, the Web also quotes you based on your social media activity. Anything you post or share on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest or your personal blog is traceable,” Ratliff says. “Employers are increasingly utilizing social media to learn about potential candidates and monitor their employees. Always think twice before pressing the send button on that tweet or before you upload a suggestive picture for the world to see.”

Antoine Moss, Ph.D., (@2PositiveTweets) is a nationally recognized resource on internships, early career achievement, leadership and motivation. CEO and founder of CEO Style Consulting L.L.C., Moss empowers professionals and organizations to reach their full potential, and serves as speaker, workshop instructor and consultant. The author of Learn to Intern CEO Style, Moss has been a featured expert on outlets including Fox 8 TV News and George Fraser’s 2011 Power Networking Conference.

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