In the latter half of the year 2006, I joined Sapient Nitro in their Boston office. My first consulting engagement was with a large multi-billion dollar Technology player in Chicago. I had to leave for their corporate office with my colleague, a seasoned management consultant, and for me, it was my first real consulting gig. I was excited and equally nervous about how am I going to make an impact on the stakeholders. Right before we were about to leave, my reporting manager called me in his room and shared some fantastic words of wisdom, which changed my perception and significantly impacted my career.
He said, “Buddy, you are going on your first consulting gig today. Every interaction you are going to have with the stakeholders from today onwards should nurture your credibility and create a bond whose foundation should rely on Trust and Empathy.”
As a follow-up to his words of wisdom, I asked him how to go about building credibility?
He said, there are many ways you can position yourself as a credible person in the industry, and there is no secret sauce here, however, based on my experience, you should aspire for these three personas:
Be a Transformer – In this corporate world, we all strive to make an impact in the organization in our personal capacities; however, the magnitude of that impact becomes larger if it brings transformation in the organization and challenges the status quo. As human beings, we get influenced by emotions more than the facts. The way our human brain is tuned, we tend to forget the facts faster than the feelings we experience. Every transformation that you bring in the organization makes an emotional impact. Your peers, managers, and even your partners remember that for a longer duration. This transformation experience not only builds your legacy but, nurture your credibility too.
Be a Thought Leader – To build your thought leadership in the industry, you need to embrace the idea of Infinite and Explicit Learning. The infinite learners are those who believe in constant learning and do not restrain themselves to any topic or subject. They always remain humble and empathetic while learning, and that is extremely important. Please do not waste your life hoarding the knowledge in your stupid brain because it’s of no value until you get an opportunity to augment it and get real feedback from your peers, managers, and partners. Be open about sharing your knowledge and learn from other people’s experiences, and that’s the quality of an explicit learner.
Be a Storyteller – The most essential skill in today’s corporate world is the Art of Storytelling. At every role you play in the organization, you need to practice this skill. It beautifully encapsulates your breadth and depth of knowledge and allows you to make an emotional connection. There are three essential elements of storytelling i.e., Empathy, Factful, and Actionable. So, for you to be a compelling storyteller, you need to work on all three parts simultaneously, and you cannot afford to miss anyone of them.
In the end, he concluded the conversation by saying that buddy, you can start with a Storytelling persona first and gradually move towards being a Thought Leader and a Transformer. Remember that, credibility building is a game of marathon, and it takes time and effort on both ends to nurture your credibility. There is no shortcut here, and it’s up to you how much you want to invest in this journey.
I hope you enjoy these words of wisdom and I am so grateful to have some amazing mentors in my life:-)