Make Gold-Medal Graciousness Part of your Personal Brand

February 24, 2014 Tara Veysey

Gold Medal Graciousness

This past Olympic fortnight I’ve been struck a number of times by the graciousness of individuals at the top of their profession.

What it looks like is this: athletes honouring the trailblazers before them to provide the opportunity to do what they are so talented at doing, winners and losers congratulating and celebrating with their opponents, mentors giving pep talks to the rookies, and finally seeing the medal winners celebrating with a mix of pride and sportsmanship. 

No more was this on display than when the Canadian women’s hockey team defeated their rivals from the United States in overtime which secured the gold medal. Marie-Philip Poulin's celebration of her overtime goal was respectful, gracious and what it means to be a winner.   ­

The common theme with these athletes is the ability to shine the light on others when all eyes are on them.  When you are at ease with yourself and can let others shine, that is at the heart of what it means to be gracious.

I believe that we all have the capacity to be gracious; it just seems that with the pace of life, work, and family situations, it’s dropped from our collective consciousness.

So let’s turn from the Olympic arena to our day-to-day lives. With such a dearth of graciousness, there is a prime opportunity for you to differentiate your personal brand in this area, be remembered, and serve as a role model while at the same time supporting your Career Capital as my colleague, Sandra Boyd, has blogged about.

Here are 11 tips (okay, maybe 10 but some things bear repeating) to incorporate more graciousness into your professional life:

  1. Keep your mobile device tucked away. Whether it’s at a speaking event, meeting or dining event, nothing says "I care about someone or something else other than who I am with right now" more than pulling out your smartphone.
  2. Acknowledge and appreciate the work others do to help you be successful and support your goals including your peers, leaders and direct reports or business partners.
  3. Pay it forward by responding to individuals who are seeking your advice or looking to network with you.
  4. Play the role of “host” in your office. Make it a point to help colleagues feel comfortable by introducing yourself to new employees and introducing new employees around the office to other team members.
  5. Reach out with a call, a note or an email to your current or former mentors, teachers or leaders with the sole purpose of letting them know you were thinking about them today. A quick email with a reflection on their contribution to your current success or an important career milestone will reinforce the role they played in your development. Social media is a great tool for this type of appreciation.
  6. Be the first person to call and thank the hosts or organizers for a great meeting, conference, or other workplace event.
  7. Learn how to give - and receive - feedback. When providing feedback, always start with appreciation and build on strengths. When receiving it, keep an open mind and your defenses down.
  8. Keep a box of note cards handy in your desk so you can let someone know how much you appreciate them.
  9. In the social media space, “favourite” any retweets you may receive and "like" and "share" posts from your network on LinkedIn. When you receive a connection invitation, respond with a quick private message to thank the person for reaching out. When you send one, customize your greeting instead of using the default message.
  10. Help others be heard. Support and acknowledge the "underdog" or "contrarian" colleague when they make a suggestion that goes contrary to conventional thinking or popular opinion. If you know a colleague is an introvert or shy about speaking out in meetings or brainstorming sessions, help to create a space where they feel more comfortable voicing their point of view.
  11. And because it’s my pet peeve: a reminder to keep the smartphone devices tucked away.

What are your tips and stories around graciousness?  Who are your role models?

About the Author

Tara Veysey

Tara Veysey is a Senior Consultant at Lee Hecht Harrison Knightsbridge. She is an experienced facilitator and coach in the areas of career transition and management. Tara works with executives, senior leaders, and senior-level technical individual contributors where she excels in helping individuals understand their potential, how to position themselves in the world of work, and creating action plans for success.

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