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How to Stand Out in a Career Crowd

Written by Jim Keighley on Sept. 7, 2014

"I'm a substitute for another guy

I look pretty tall but my heels are high…”

Leadership lessons from The Who. Inspired by lyrics from Substitute by Pete Townshend

Many people mid-career feel trapped.

Are you one of them?

Coached to move from one assignment to another, and told to “get out of your comfort zone” while getting vague assurances that this next move will lead to the advancement that never seems to come.

You get passed by others for promotion or choice assignments.

A powerful answer to this trap is the PIE Model created by Harvey Coleman in his 1996 book - Empowering Yourself, The Organizational Game Revealed. Coleman found that Performance, Image and Exposure (PIE) are the three keys to success.


Performance with a poor image is frustration. Image with no performance is politics. [tweet this]

If you are trapped – consider your image, AKA your equity.

We work and talk Performance constantly – when was the last time YOU worked on YOUR Image – your Equity? Cultivating your image on a foundation of strong results leads to success.

For example, when we change assignments, we figure it takes 6 maybe 12 months to learn the job and deliver strong results. So we move to a new job and put our entire focus on 10% of the PIE. We assume Image will follow or take care of itself.

But... our image precedes and follows us in any organization. People talk.

EVERY DAY we draw a caricature of ourselves that our co-workers come to know us by, and generally they will not allow us to change that image. This is why promoting someone to be the boss of a group they worked in often fails. Former co-workers are unwilling to change their image of someone from co-worker to boss.

Prior to starting a new assignment – assess yourself. Talk to others. Use tools like Myers Briggs, StrengthsFinder 2.0, or HBDI. Pick 1 or 2 things that you would like to change or improve about yourself or will be a better fit for your new role.

The time to improve your image – the time to start drawing your caricature for your new work group is Day 1 of the new job.

If you can deliver results while choosing and changing your image barriers over 5-10 years of new teams and roles - the cumulative effect on who you are and how people view you will drive success.

The simple things you see are all complicated

Look pretty young, but I'm just back dated, yeah...

Jim Keighley is a popular coach and contributor to Evoke.pro. Take a look at some of his other posts:

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Photo iStock

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