There’s a quote I like to share with the staff at school each year, and it’s posted in my office too:
“Think of your boss as a small woodland animal – make no startling moves or strange gestures.” (Cathie Black from Basic Black)
This is funny to many because if you know me, you know that I am probably the least likely person to be compared to a small woodland animal – or any animal, really! – but the message fits.
Your boss doesn’t want you to do things that are odd or unexpected. Your boss wants to feel confident that when she hears from you and sees you, both in and out of the work place (and on social media, too), she knows what she’s going to get. Your boss wants your behavior and your work to reflect well on the company or organization.
Because if something you do is strange and startling, what will a customer or client think?
Because if your boss is feeling like your behavior is strange and startling, can he trust you? Can your colleagues or teammates either?
I think the answer is no. And, if there’s no trust, there’s not much of anything else…
Another way to get at this is: be consistent.
Last year, I heard a speaker say, “When people are consistent around you, they show you their integrity.” When I think about the people with whom I work – both in my professional life and in my volunteer work – I think this quote rings true. How do you earn respect? How do you become seen as someone who is reliable, trustworthy, committed? It’s by being consistent over time, living your values through your actions, focusing more on the organization or company than yourself, following through on what you say you will do – and by making no startling moves or strange gestures.
Nicole McDermott recently concluded her eleventh year leading Pinecrest School, a small, independent preschool through sixth grade school in Northern Virginia. In addition, Nicole has extensive experience working with high school student leaders through her community service work with Kiwanis International, and she spends a week each summer volunteering at Camp Sunshine, a retreat in Maine serving critically-ill children and their families from around the country. She prioritizes building connection and community, supporting people she loves and causes that are important to her and continuing to grow into a better version of herself. You can read more of Nicole’s written work on her blog.