I’ve been fired three times in my career. Each one of these times allowed for critical thinking and self-reflection on what happened and what I could learn from the experience – which, at the time, felt defeating, deflating and depressing. Even though I was meeting the requirements of the job (in two cases, I was cited as a top performer with maximum pay raises and bonuses), I was blindsided. But should I have been?
The first time I was fired, I had taken a job where a friend worked, but the job was neither stimulating nor challenging. I could easily get it done, which, I thought was a bonus. The problem was I didn’t show up as my best self. I would even say I was bored, and it showed.
The second time I was fired, I had chosen the right job but with the wrong company. I was the CMO of a high-growth consulting firm, and I helped raise their visibility to be rated in Gartner’s magic quadrant as a top company. But I did not realize how important culture fit was, and this particular company had a toxic, high-pressure environment. I withdrew and held back my thoughts and opinions. I should have fired myself sooner than they did, but the entire experience lasted a miserable 6 months.
The third time I was fired might be considered “normal.” The company was private equity-funded, and our CEO was removed. The new CEO exited the entire existing executive team to put in his own.
Visibility + Relationships = Invaluable
While each of these seemed like very different situations, in hindsight, the common thread is clear. As leaders, our value is not in our performance. That is table stakes. You are hired to do your job. Someone had that job before you and someone will have it afterward. So, what makes you different?
How you lead is your differentiator. You must show up with your enthusiasm and energy for others. You need to be more than valuable; you need to show that your leadership is invaluable.
Your ability to be invaluable comes down to visibility and relationships. Each of these elements takes intention, and notably, are harder in a remote world. If only your manager and your team see you or know you, then you miss out on the visibility. Unless others in the organization know who you are and how you are valued, you will become insulated and often overlooked.
Share Your Passions, Not Your Title
I’m not suggesting self-promotion, because that feels inauthentic. I am, however, advocating strongly for you to define and manage your brand. Sharing your passions and gifts can be done in a humble fashion. For example, each time you introduce yourself, instead of your job title, share where your passions lie. Articulate the three big things you are working on so others can see the impact you are making. They will remember these and likely have reason to discuss further with you and share ideas.
As the economy changes, job security changes. You don’t want to be in a position of losing a job, but, more importantly, you want to be in a job where you can thrive. By leading with your passion, the impact you make on your environment and your own job satisfaction will be felt, and you can show that your leadership is invaluable.