It’s been a while, but it feels great to be behind the keyboard once again. I will admit I have been hesitant to create new content since beginning in my new role. Realizing how blessed I am to work at the College Football Playoff (CFP), it also comes with a great deal of personal accountability.

In reality, I am still the same person who was stocking groceries at Walmart just a few short years ago — that’s just my mentality. Nevertheless, as I found before beginning my tenure here, and even more so since, someone is always watching. Further, although my role is operations-focused, by default, I also operate in the communications realm through my social media channels.

In other words, a mere disclaimer stating, “Thoughts are my own and do not reflect those of my employer” just doesn’t quite cut it at this level. That is not specific to my own employer, however. Whether you are employed by State University or the CFP, the associated logo never comes off. In the lines to follow, I elaborate on the importance of a professional presence online, along with two other considerations for those seeking to position themselves for new opportunities, or even bloom where they are planted.

Online Branding (What’s own-line is on you.)

In my Executive Image workshops, I often use the acronym LIFTS to convey my views on social media decorum. In a nutshell, social media can and should be used as a catalyst to elevate your career. I can honestly say that my digital brand played a critical role in my recruitment to the College Football Playoff. Mind you, prior to joining the staff, I was working for an organization that did not maintain an online staff directory, largely due to the size of the company. As a result, my online brand was all I had, thus I took immense pride and ownership of it to make my interests and aspirations known.

For example, if you aspire to be an athletic director, one should be able to tell by a quick glance at your timeline. What kind of content are you sharing? Are you aware of how the new tax laws may impact fundraising, licensing and coaching contracts in college athletics? Do you have any ideas about how to potentially mitigate financial windfalls?

Always control the narrative. Take ownership of your online brand.

Emotional Intelligence (The other kind of smart.)

According to Psychology Today, emotional intelligence, or EQ, is the ability to identify and manage your own emotions and the emotions of others. In a sit-down with our staff, Ohio State Athletic Director Gene Smith emphasized the importance of emotional intelligence with regard to his effectiveness as a leader. Never once did he take credit for his personal achievements. Rather, he lauded his staff and cited his being attuned to their needs as his greatest virtue. Further, decades of research now point to emotional intelligence as the critical factor that sets star performers apart from the rest of the pack.

In my operations role, I work with virtually every department daily, and I am fortunate to have an amazing staff around me. As a team, we are to be generally aware of how everyone’s role contributes to the bigger picture. Thus, I pay close attention in our staff meetings so I know what people are working on, what deadlines they are facing, and thus, when the best time to touch base with them might be. As I learned during my coaching days, you can use the same technique with two different people and end up with two vastly different outcomes. Therefore, you must adapt your approach to suit your audience to achieve the best results.

EQ > IQ. It’s quite elementary.

Temperament (100 degrees Self-ius.)

While closely related to personality, temperament is more of an inherited style upon which one’s personality is fortified. Temperament is said to consist of nine emotional building blocks, or traits, that affect how you respond to life. These traits are activity, adaptability, approach, distractibility, intensity, persistence, positivity, regularity and sensitivity. These are all characteristics that could positively or negatively impact one’s ability to lead effectively.

Oftentimes employers talk about the importance of “fit”. Whenever I hear that descriptor referenced in hiring decisions, in the affirmative or otherwise, temperament is the first thing that comes to mind. One could argue skills and expertise as deciding factors, but for those in consideration for leadership roles, experience is a given. If that were not the case, hiring decisions would be made from résumés alone. Moreover, interviews are conducted to get a sense of one’s interpersonal skills, aside from how s/he appears on the internet. (Notice the interrelation). Thus, interviewers are merely serving as proxies to determine if their team of people will enjoy working with/for you. It is at this point that your temperament is put on full display as it relates to your ability to “control the climate” and lead others effectively.

The temperature of your work environment is regulated by your temperament.

Key Takeaways

In closing, the items covered herein were not intended to be an exhaustive list for success nor discount the importance of work experience, relationships, etc. Nevertheless, we must take time for introspection and determine methods by which to strengthen our oft-overlooked soft skills.

Think of this way:

Your digital presence is always present, your emotional intellect is what earns you respect, and a pleasant disposition is what will elevate you to your desired position.

Be sure to check out the bestselling guide for young professionals and leaders alike, The Blueprint for a Successful Career, on Amazon.

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