Is Being The Best Good Enough? - Page 2 of 2

Is Being The Best Good Enough?

team are ways to increase your visibility as a team player. These actions create opportunities to ask questions, figure out the political landscape, and receive other vital information you wouldn’t normally get in the workplace. “Putting yourself out there is not easy,” offers Sebastian, “but it’s a requirement of the game.”

Solicit feedback “Organizations are not good at [offering] feedback,” says Sebastian, “and people don’t go out of their way to say, ‘Here’s where I am; I’ve been here for the last five years. What do I need to do to go to the next step?”’

It’s important to gain feedback not only from supervisors but other key personnel. If your direct supervisor doesn’t acknowledge your leadership potential, “the next step is to get different data points as to where you should fill in gaps.” You can also confirm or dispel your own suspicions about how you’re perceived. That information will be critical in building your action plan.

Examine lateral opportunities Aspiring professionals always tend to focus on vertical advancement when a more strategic opportunity may be in a lateral position. “A move sideways may have nothing to do with your functional discipline,” offers Sebastian, “but it may be an area valuable to an organization. And you may have the opportunity to be broader than you are.” Taking such a position could strengthen your skill set and broaden your exposure. But to make this determination your network must be broad enough within the company to get accurate feedback. Offers Sebastian: “You might say, ‘I’m thinking of taking a job in customer service, what do you think?’ And they’ll say, ‘That’s the point of no return.’ Or ‘if you get some wins in there you will be a hero in this organization.’ No one from the outside can really tell you that.”

Diversity Leader
L. Renee Richardson, Director of African American Markets for Tapestry
Recent U.S. Census data shows blacks in the U.S. now represent 13% of the population, a 16% increase since 1990. According to the University of Georgia’s Selig Center for Economic Growth, by 2008, black spending power is projected to reach $921 billion. Since 1990, that’s a growth spurt of 189%. Those numbers set the platform for L. Renee Richardson’s charge in educating clients as director of African American markets for Tapestry, an advertising division of Starcom/Leo Burnett focused on ethnic marketing. “There is a more upscale, affluent consumer that is not predominantly in the minds of advertisers or marketers,” she argues. “Hip-hop is a segment in the African American community, but it’s not the only one. And [advertisers] are missing the diversity of the African American market. We want to [include] the business owner; the entrepreneur; the working mother who is successfully raising her kid; the father who may be raising his own children; and the male in the household, who we in the African American community see all the time. To other people, those images are not seen and, therefore, they don’t associate them with our community.”