Boss Lady

Why you need to learn the ‘four Rs’ for career success


As ambitious women I’m sure that at some stage we have all either been brushed off or subject to the supposedly sage advice that you just need to work harder. In fact there is a saying that women need to work twice as hard as men to be successful. Well I disagree.

Like you, I started my career under the belief (from my parents as well as supervisors and managers at work) that to do well I needed to work hard and get good results. In fact it seemed that all that was needed for career success was to get good results and the rewards would come. Hmm, who else is still waiting for that to happen?

Don’t get me wrong – results are important. It’s just that the Result (yes one of the Rs you need to align to be successful) is not the first one. What is more important is how you phrase, describe and position your results. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

The first R that successful career women need to get clear on is Reputation.

Be clear in your own heart and mind about exactly what it is that you want your reputation to be. What is it that you want to be known for?

Taking the traditional overemphasis on results for example, a woman who works hard and gets good results is usually described as being reliable. If you work this way your reputation will be as the go to person when extra help is needed or a last ditch rescue mission is required.

Ah yes, now it becomes clear as to why you seem to be the one that people turn to in a crisis pleading for assistance and help. And a hard worker will often put her own priorities aside in order to help and hoping to be recognised in the future. All that does is reinforce the reputation of being reliable and the best go to person when things have hit the fan.

Take ownership of your reputation. If you want to be known as innovative then consider what behaviours innovators are known for. Having the reputation for being professional means different things to different people. Be clear and then use that as the theme or touchstone for everything else you do in your career journey. A woman who has the reputation as a thought leader has achieved certain results and worked in certain areas.

The first R to align is your desired Reputation.

Then your focus needs to turn to your Results in terms of setting goals and also harnessing your energy and talents.

The third of the Rs is Rapport and women are typically quite good at establishing rapport and having an emphasis on maintaining (the fourth R) working Relationships. Here is potentially another twist in what you have always heard and been told.

Rapport and networking is important, yet it’s also about showing your personality and who you are. Be prepared to stand up and stand out in terms of alignment with your reputation. A thought leader will be willing to contribute a new and possibly controversial element to a conversation and will leave the impression of being well researched and ahead of the curve. By now I hope you are clear on the importance that having your own clarity on your desired reputation has. You may not ever divulge that desired reputation to others directly, it will become apparent through the vehicle of your words and actions.

As we all know working Relationships are critical to career success. It is much more than who knows who. Perhaps more importantly effective relationship mapping identifies who knows you and how they know you as well as what they say about you to others. The informal network and the things that we are known for by others can make or break a career. When you are beginning the focus on your desired reputation it can also be very informative to identify who is in your circle who is already known for those attributes so you can role model them .

Hence the starting point is to think about what you want to be known for at work – professional (and what does that mean or look like to others as well as you – be specific). Consider key words.

Specialist. Expert. Connector. Innovator. Leader.

Revisit your results and how you describe them. If you are job hunting, or seeking a promotion, ask yourself if your resume is focused on the results that enhance your desired reputation or which may take the focus off that. For instance, you may be a great event manager and meeting coordinator, yet you want to be known as a fabulous MC. You may rewrite your results in the events and meeting areas to emphasise the success you’ve had opening meetings or introducing speakers rather than on the thought leading program content.

Following on that theme of revisiting your results, now is the time to consider your introduction or elevator pitch. When you introduce yourself to someone do you say things that introduce you in the way that best fits your target reputation or do you use phrases that may slightly differ. This may be a very subtle difference. A good reputation is a given, yet if you want to be an MC and introduce yourself as the Event Planner then perhaps there is room for a subtle shift.

Then consider who you have connections with and what workplace relationships you have developed and whether those people would describe you to others in the terms of your target reputation. Reputation is what others believe anout us based on their observations.

On the topic of reputation, sure there will always be room for the lies and falsehoods. Its’ important to have built enough solid connections and a consistent reputation so that when doubts are raised others who know you will not believe them.

When you get those Rs in alignment – Reputation – Results – Rapport – Relationships you will be sure to notice a positive shift in your career and your success. It is also going to be a great way to increase and enhance your personal satisfaction with your work.

About Pam Macdonald

Pam Macdonald has over a decade of experience in management consulting and another decade in senior leadership and human resource management roles. She is known and respected for her pragmatic approach and ability to assist and support others to define and set action plans to achieve their goals. Pam has specialised in leadership and team development, and has been involved in significant culture change programs with organisations such as Unilever, NSW Electricity Commission and nab. Pam uses her strengths in coaching and training to facilitate structured and tailored results for clients.

Recommended for you