Perhaps you’ve wondered, “If everyone is doing the same thing, reading the same books, and taking the same training, how am I going to differentiate myself?” Herd mentality can create inertia, but there’s a simple and straightforward way to emerge from the group and ensure you’re seen.

On Differentiating Yourself

""People collectively assume major events and/or singular accomplishments are the defining moments that separate individuals from the crowd. In reality, differentiating yourself from your peers involves:

  • Attention to detail
  • Unfailing organization
  • Tireless pursuit of the mission
  • Commitment to relentlessly serving your team

Beyond this, the factor that allows leaders to shine is the willingness and cheerfulness with which they perform these qualities and undertake their work.

Taking It a Step Further

“Give people more than they expect and do it cheerfully.” — H. Jackson Brown, author

Because our society tends toward keeping score, a person who cheerfully gives of themself on behalf of their organization, team, clients, and customers stands out. Daily experiences are typically transactional in nature. Acts of friendliness, kindness, selflessness, and caring attract attention. When they come from someone in a leadership role, they’re even more unique and positive.

""Manifest these qualities daily by being present and genuinely engaged in conversations with your team members. Take time to write brief affirmations for specific actions, such as when a team member effectively supports a client. Demonstrate that you notice your team’s contributions.

Furthermore, make an effort to discover the long-term goals of your team members and then actively support those goals. This will differentiate you substantially from most of your peers in positions of authority.

Finally, support and encourage your team members in being successful and accountable in their roles. The importance of holding people accountable is often discussed, yet seldom do leaders actually empower their team members to be accountable. Such actions will quickly distinguish a leader from a mere manager.

What Does It Look Like to People Outside the Team?

Highly loyal and trusting teams are not found nearly as often as those where friction and angst are the norm. When senior leaders evaluate teams’ productivity and efficiency, they look at factors like retention, satisfaction, and the number of team members who are emerging prepared for leadership roles. It’s rare to find a leader who can drive productivity and inspire their team to grow and contribute. Incentivizing and promoting such leaders is a primary function of senior leadership.

""Standing out and differentiating yourself is a long game. It’s not a matter of putting on a single, splashy event or performing a high-profile task. Instead, authentically perform the core aspects of your leadership role with presence, cheerfulness, and willingness. This is a far more fruitful and rewarding way to stand out from the crowd.

The path to becoming a great leader begins by managing a team of one: yourself. Get started today with our free eBook.