“Food, clothing and such do not differ much among people;
what distinguishes good men from others is modesty.” ~ Tiruvalluvar, Tirukkural, Chapter 102, Kural 2
People of our region, South Asia and East Asia who follows the religious cultures of India including Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism are expected to follow modesty and raised to do so.
Playing our-selves down in a global arena is sending wrong messages to the world. The recent Chappel controversy about Indian Leadership is one of the best example.
Ranjani Manian of BL has listed few simple steps to express our selves clearly to the world. Here they are,
We need to have a clear understanding of our own strengths, what we can contribute to the workforce, how we can add value. Gandhiji, for instance, was clear about what he was good at — rousing people to action, leading by example; so he focussed confidently on non-violent, non-cooperation to gain freedom for India.
Speak up for yourself
We need to speak up for ourselves, in the right way, to the right audience, at the right time, believing in the value that we bring. If we don’t, others won’t recognise what we can do. Pasupathy, an office boy in our company, understands the need for, and knows how to keep a checklist for print runs for error avoidance; but it was only when he spoke up about what he had “quietly” been doing, that we recognised him and now he has been promoted as Print Assistant.
Don’t talk too much, act
Let’s give our New Indian Manager a name in this article — Rajiv. After deciding to speak up, Rajiv, who knows he can be a team lead, has to practice talking about himself to get the tone just right. He must find a way of expressing himself in a manner that won’t go against the behaviour codes he’s absorbed in his formative years. ‘Will my family be proud that I can truly say this about myself?’ is a good question to ask oneself as a check. On the other hand, keeping in tune with professional standards, Rajiv should practice being clear and concise in what he says. He can start by writing it down in 250 words or less. (Personally, I find that writing down our capabilities is a hugely self-revealing and a good practice before a speech.) Rajiv should remember that erring on the side of excessive talk is likely to get his claims dismissed — as I was tempted to do with the American who e-mailed me. Investing in a course that teaches speaking skills maybe worth the expense in one’s quest to be upwardly mobile.
Speak from your heart
Another thing I’ve found is that if you are passionate about what you’re doing, it comes across well when you speak about it. Even if Rajiv is talking about his own work and achievements, it won’t seem like boasting if he lets his commitment show. So, don’t be afraid to put your heart into what you’re saying. Also, as team lead, Rajiv needs to acknowledge others’ contribution. When you give praise where it’s due, it conveys the clear message that you’re not in the business of taking undue credit.
Let the facts speak for you
Rajiv has conveyed to his superiors that he can add value to the project. They are impressed by his initial presentation, and invite him to elaborate. His focus now should be on giving concrete examples of how his plan has worked in the past, or, if it’s a first-time venture, provide well-researched projected figures to show how it will work. In other words, he should let facts and figures speak for him, rather than a lot of unsupported adjectives.
And finally, it will help your case if you exceed expectations. When you’re entrusted with a task, do a little bit extra. I had an intern who was asked to call people who had registered on Global Adjustment’s list of landlords and find out if their premises were still available. He produced a report which showed the exact number of people he contacted, how many of these had re-listed, how many had put him on to other contacts, which contact details were wrong, the ones whom he couldn’t reach but intended to keep trying. In short, by giving us more than we bargained for, he announced his own worth in the nicest possible way. Impressed, we gave him new challenges and responsibilities, instead of seeing him as ‘just an intern’.
So get that trumpet out and give it a nice shine. If you get the notes right, the music will take you places.