These Three Can Make or Break Your Career
Thursday, October 26, 2017 2:21 PM

These Three Can Make or Break Your Career

Thursday, October 26, 2017 2:21 PM
Thursday, October 26, 2017 2:21 PM

By DOROTHY BURTON 

As public servant leaders we know that a prying public is quick to cry foul at our slightest indiscretion.

They never consider we too are human and are just as subject to succumbing to the same temptations and giving in to our weaknesses as they.

Public servant leaders, especially public servant leaders of faith, are not and never will be afforded the same luxury.

We will be scrutinized, brutalized and mercilessly criticized for the slightest indiscretion where others may get a pass.

People’s perceptions are their reality and we can talk until we are blue in the face, but once people make up their mind about who we are, based upon who they perceive us to be, it is an uphill battle to change their mind.

We will be scrutinized, brutalized and mercilessly criticized for the slightest indiscretion where others may get a pass.

In the age of social media the old cliche "you never get a second chance to make a first impression" is passe.

People no longer wait to meet you face-to-face. They scan your social media pages and posts across multiple platforms and these now are the first and ongoing impressions.

In many cases, we put way too much of our personal life on public blast without realizing we are being profiled from our profiles.

After all, we're all too eager to show off photos of those high-dollar dinners at those high-dollar restaurants; even worse for public servant leaders, photos of good times on the public's dime while attending an out-of-town conference.

Additionally, there are principally three factors whether evident on social media or by observation, that crystallize in people's mind for good or bad, true or no, who we are.

If we want them to think differently or, if you want to change perception of who you are, keep reading.

There are three main factors that go into shaping public opinion of us, formed without them even knowing us personally or without having engaged in conversation with us.

The three things people pay closer attention to than anything else when it comes to forming their opinion about you and me are these:

Our Record

Our record follows us for good or bad.

People have long-term memory when it comes to the bad and short-term memory of the good. Funny how that works.

I teach a workshop entitled Shaping and Re-shaping Public Perception: Be Who You Want Them To See. And one of the more popular exercises is a game we play called "STLT" - an abbreviation for "Short-term/Long-Term.

While a fun game, we deal with a serious matter. Our record is what people remember.

You can be a saint for a day, but a scoundrel for a lifetime. It's how most of us process. One negative can negate ten positives.

You can be a saint for a day, but a scoundrel for a lifetime.

Remedy? Keep your record clear of even the slightest hint of wrongdoing. Keep it clean. Keep it transparent. And keep your business off social media!

How We Roll

Public servant leaders are scrutinized and judged by everything from the car we drive to where we live - the clothes we wear, how we take care of business (or not); and, the promises we make and especially those we don't keep. This is "how we roll."

Make clear what you stand for, what you will and won't tolerate and then be prepared to be challenged - more than once. 

Establish your territory. Stake your claim early in the game and protect at all costs, your name.

How we roll has nothing to do with position, though the higher up the food chain we go, it is important to establish our identity - but the mold is cast on the lower rung of the ladder. 

How we roll is who we are based upon the record we've established and what people have come to expect us to be based upon that record. 

Establish your territory. Stake your claim early in the game and protect at all costs, your name.

It's not about what we say. We are judged by what we do, what we will and will not tolerate; and, what we will not engage in.

If people know you don't engage in gossip, they won't come to you with  the messy details of someone else's life.

If people know you are honest and trustworthy, they won't even attempt to offer you a deal under the table.

Once people know how you roll, your character, they will give you what money could never buy - respect. They won't cast a line your way. It's those leaders who are wishy-washy who get baited and hooked.

Who We Roll With

We are judged fairly or unfairly by the company we keep.

As a public servant leader you will sometimes have to make the painful decision to cut people out of your life.

One of the most important lessons you will ever learn – your mom or dad likely taught you in grade school: “you are known by the company you keep.”

Or, as the Apostle Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15:33 - Do not be deceived: "Bad company corrupts good character."

Your private associations can kill your public career. As a public servant leader you are in the public eye 24/7 - either in person or someone is trolling your profile.

As much as you would like to, you can’t be friends with certain people; online or in person. That’s not being elitist, that’s being smart.

Be careful who you call a friend and whom you allow to call you the same. Good can rub off on bad, but my experience has been it's more often the other way around.

It is sometimes more easy to slip into darkness than it is to stay in the light. 

But as a public servant leader, know that what you do in the dark will come to the light - always. Why? Because someone will always make sure it does.

Your private associations can kill your public career. As a leader in the public eye, you can’t be friends with certain people. That’s not being elitist that’s being smart.

When you are in any type of public servant leadership role, these three can make or break your career – your record – how you roll – and who you roll with. This you can take to the bank. 

Dorothy Burton is the author of the book, "Why We Fall: How Not to Sabotage Your Career, Your Relationships, Your Life! http://amzn.to/1LQnyCj

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