This year, as part of Citi’s annual International Women’s Day celebration, we invited colleagues from around the globe – women and men – to tell us about a single, defining personal characteristic that led to their success, however they may define it. Since launching this conversation on our internal social collaboration site two weeks ago, more than 100 employees shared their stories with us. As I read through these posts, the unifying thread that jumped out at me was “bigness” – that is, how a big mouth, big heart, and/or big thinking can lead professional progress.
So, in the spirit of helping others take a big leap forward in their journey, here’s a round-up of what I took away from this inspiring exercise:
- Big Mouth: In effect, speak up. And, when you do speak, speak to be heard, with confidence, clarity and conviction. Suni Harford, Managing Director and Regional Head of Markets, North America, shared, “Use your voice selectively but forcefully. And, remember: your big mouth does its greatest good when you give credit where credit is due, and when you admit when you are wrong.” Another colleague, Clive Niels Roberts, made an important point: “Never be afraid to be wrong. It’s worse to be silent.”
- Big Heart: Love what you do and do what you love. Aneth Lim noted: “Passion pushes you to do better each time, test boundaries, cope with unprecedented challenges and exceed expectations.” In other words, it’s what keeps you invested and engaged.
- Big Appetite: “When you get out of your comfort zone more often and take risks, that’s what fuels progress,” believes Alejandra Villagra. Colleague Augusta Sanfilippo put it this way, “It’s about visualizing what you want. Imagining something always ‘fuels’ one’s success. Think extraordinary and expect extraordinary.”
- Big Reach: In short, don’t go it alone: harness a career posse to navigate the inevitable ups, downs, twists and turns of work – and life. Build and maintain a high-quality network, tap mentors and secure sponsors to advocate for you, and cultivate strong followership among colleagues, clients and partners at all levels inside and outside your organization. And reach back and lend a hand. Create opportunities for others to shine. Be a mentor and act as an advocate. As Neelam Rochlani shared, “Be human and make an impact on the lives you touch with your contributions, innovation and dedication.”
- Big-Picture Thinking: “Look at the big picture and regard it as your problem, even if it isn’t explicitly yours,” said Stuart Bevan. His sentiment was echoed by Stuart David Riley, who said “Go beyond your day job and solve the problems of others. Adding value is the best way to be valued.”
And if real or self-imposed barriers get in your way, keep these wise words from Kausar Nawaz in mind:
“All of us have a variety of potential. What matters most is how we craft that potential, sharpen it, and apply it to the scope of events around us.” – Kausar Nawaz
This article is published in collaboration with LinkedIn. Publication does not imply endorsement of views by the World Economic Forum.
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Author: Linda Descano is the Managing Director and Global Head of Content & Social at Citi.
Image: A Businesswoman is silhouetted as she makes her way under the Arche de la Defense, in the financial district west of Paris, November 20, 2012. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann.