Over the past year, there has been an explosion of reports and allegations of unprofessional behavior, abuses of authority and inappropriate treatment of employees from esteemed leaders. Although, those are extreme, there are ways to define and create your desired professional image.
You do not just create your image at one given moment. It is your repeated and consistent behaviors that promote the connections and work relationships you generate. For example, displaying respect and dignity toward others regardless of the situation, circumstance or event that is happening conveys a key message. This message can impart that you have a high regard and value for others. The following three steps will allow you to set the stage for protecting and ensuring your professional image.
Step 1: Define the qualities that will create your professional persona.
Start to define what you currently embody and identify characteristics that you want to embrace moving forward. Do you want people to think of you as approachable and collegial? Or is it more important that they consider yourself responsible and disciplined? Get that picture in your mind. Visualize what you look like as that person and anchor that image into your memory. What are you wearing? How do you present yourself? How do you carry yourself? What is the energy and emotion that you exude? What type of presence would you like bring to your work environment?
Step 2: Define the image of your role models.
Who do you know either in real life or is a public figure that you look up to? Who are your role models and what is it about them that you admire or adore? Are there ways in which they carry themselves that you would like to replicate? Is there a gesture, a response that they give, a look they show to the world that you would like to duplicate in your own unique way? Are they self-aware and open to feedback from all levels? Do they communicate clearly and compassionately at the same time? Consider all these factors and start to craft the professional being that you would like to become.
Step 3: Ensure and check to see if your actions are aligned with your intentions.
Now that you have a good working construct of who and what you would like to create as your professional image put those qualities and elements into your daily practice. Carry out those qualities and put them into motion. Pay attention to the reactions that you are getting from others and be an observer of your own behavior. Are your actions aligned with the professional image that you want to portray, and do they make you proud? Are you communicating messages that are clear and direct in both your words, verbally and non-verbally, as well as with your body language? Are your various modes of communication conveying a consistent message? Solicit feedback from others. Ask you manager, your colleagues and know that all feedback is information. Make any required changes or adjustments in your behavior if it warrants.
You want to pay attention to your current professional image that you are setting as it will have an impact on all your other future professional relationships. This image can create long lasting impressions so determine first what you want your professional relationships to be and look like. You never know, you may become a current colleague’s manager one day. The key is to establish an image that will build professional linkages and bridges for your future endeavors.