You Don’t Need a Title To Be Successful

This is the last post in a series where Women of HR writers share their thoughts and reactions to a manifesto, Six Rules Women Must Break In Order to Succeed.


When I graduated college, I did informative interviews with several companies and one led to a job offer.  Texaco E&P in Denver, Colorado offered me my first Human Resources position.  I was ecstatic. I was a professional and on my way up!

When I joined the company I was told by the Executive Vice President, Human Resources that if I studied and became came a subject matter expert in some HR thing (Organizational Development intrigued me – yep, I was a bit green) I would advance and would be relocated to their headquarters. I was vicariously living this dream through his promises.  It turned out there were some pertinent details of what the company expected from an Organizational Development specialist like a master’s degree and perhaps even a Ph.D.  But I really wanted this, or I thought so.

In reading Six Rules Women Must Break In Order to Succeed, I thought it would be helpful to take a look at each through the lens of my career and share my insights with you:

Rule #1. Take Center Stage  . . . and shine. Act with confidence, boldness and a bit of brazen abandon!  Be relentless in educating yourself about YOU. I recently attended an HR conference and they repeated, “Is there an “it” I do not get?”  You will be surprised what others will share if you ask.  But be prepared for what they share.  Know yourself and constantly be curious about yourself and not others.

Rule #2. Proceed until Apprehended.  I work with a Vice President whose modus operandi is ‘Act and then ask for forgiveness.’  Love it!  He is a bit impulsive and at times appears reckless but he is the epitome of this statement.  He is respected and an esteemed colleague that many want to be around.  Be it, own it and act on it.

Rule #3. Project Personal Power.  This I can relate to. When I was young, I affectionately like to refer to the fact that  mastering the art of stuttering helped me succeed in life.  This was not your typical stuttering but one that completely hindered my ability to talk on the phone, speak in front of others or ask simple questions to assert myself in public or with family. It was mortifying. I was taking my impairment, correcting it and from this, I learned about poise, conviction and taking calculated but conscientious risks. I was grace under fire!

Rule #4. Be Politically Savvy.  I am good at taking the time to build relationships and boy, can I network. Invest in learning about others. This leads to the consensus that is essential to build alliances and partnerships that are significant in navigating office politics, eventually get you that promotion or the recognition as the expert.

Rule #5. Play to Win.  Reinvent yourself.  We live in an economic climate where it is about delivering, conceiving, visualizing, formulating or creating.  Set the basic foundation, establish infrastructure and be strategic.  Be the one to revolutionize the system, transform and challenge process and do not settle for status quo.

Rule #6. It’s Both/And. Want to avoid an overactive mind? I am fanatical about reflection. This can obliterate the over analyzing of everything.  We live with ambiguity and uncertainty. Become comfortable with it. Reflect and this will lead to sagacity.

What I learned is that to be a leader you think, act and behave like one.  You do not need the big title or to be at headquarters to lead or make a difference.  I make a difference at my organization, I am respected, called upon and make contributions that counts.  My managers and employees alike consider me an ally, an activist and a trusted and credible advocate.  If that is not making business better than I do not know what is!

Photo credit iStockphoto

About the Author

Michelle McLaren

Michelle McLaren, PHR is a Human Resources Business Partner for Wincor Nixdorf, a Global IT organization and has over 18 years progressive human resources experience. She is the Chair for the Austin HR Management Association Certification Committee, blogs regularly for AHRMA on various HR topics and lends her talents to other HR projects and initiatives. You can connect with Michelle on LinkedIn.

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