The Deviant Who Delivers Approach

There are many ways to do fine work. One approach is to dare to be different. But this approach comes with a condition. This is:

If you are going to be a deviant, you may have to over-deliver.

Every person is different. They have a different story, successes and setbacks. Some individuals learn how to channel their personality in a way that helps them and other people.

Many creative people have a background of feeling different when they grew up. A person may have been a late developer, dyslexic or be different in another way. Those individuals who went on to thrive often had certain things in common.

They were supported by key people in their life – such as a parent, teacher or another significant person.

They were told to believe in themselves but were also taught how to survive or thrive in various situations.

They began to learn how use their differences to help themselves or other people.

People who take this step sometimes follow certain guidelines. They aim to be positive, be professional and do their best to deliver peak performances. Imagine that you want to follow these steps in your own way. Let’s explore these themes.

Being Positive

One approach is to have a positive attitude towards people and help them to succeed. This sounds obvious but some individuals flaunt their individuality by dismissing other people’s opinions.

“Be nice to people on your way up because you’ll meet them on your way down,” is an old saying from show business. Today’s equivalent in fast moving organisations is:

“Be friendly towards everybody – whatever their role – because one day you may find yourself being interviewed by them for a job.”

Being positive and helping people increases the chances of getting away with being different. It also puts goodwill in the bank – because there may be times when you need it.

Being Professional

Several years ago I was approached by a brilliant marketer, let’s call him Dave, who had been twice been passed over for promotion. Getting a reality check from his boss, he found his colleagues considered him unprofessional. They said:

“He is great with clients but rude to colleagues. He promises clients a proposal in 2 days, but doesn’t check whether we can get the data by then.

“During meetings he does email, rather than listen to what people are saying. He shows impatience by interrupting the speaker or going out to make phone calls.

“He has a brilliant strategic brain but shows little respect for colleagues in the team.”

Dave had previously been in denial. But now he saw that his behaviour was preventing him getting promotion to a more strategic role. He could choose:

To ignore the feedback … To say everybody else was wrong … To attach himself to bosses who would hire him for his strategic brain rather than interpersonal skills … To take the messages on board and try to get another result.

Dave opted for the latter option. He aimed to become more professional with both colleagues and clients. The approach we explored together was:

“Imagine you are a freelancer running your own business and supplying services to this company. How would you behave?

“You would recognise that you are always on stage. People make judgements about you every moment.

“So you would probably behave professionally towards everybody in the business – the receptionist, managing director, PA and potential future clients you met in the corridor.

“You certainly have these skills because you demonstrate them superbly with clients. Here are two questions to consider.

“Do you want to take the time to behave professionally towards everybody in the business? If so, how can you do so in the next week, month and year?”

Dave chose to make the effort. When somebody stopped him to ask for a chat as he was rushing to a meeting, for example, he no longer brushed them aside. He gave them 100% attention and said:

“It would be good to catch up. Right now I am on my way to a meeting. But as soon as it is finished I will get back to you with a time when we can talk.”

Doing simple things like saying ‘Please’ and ‘Thank you’ also had an effect. People began to feel easier in his presence and more willing to help him to succeed.

Being A Peak Performer

Great workers aim to deliver peak performances. How can you do this in your own way? Sometimes it can also be helpful to recall the basic rule about team sports that is often quoted in various forms.

Great team members look beyond their own success. They also help their colleagues and the whole team to achieve success.

Bearing this in mind, it is vital to proactively make clear contracts with your manager and other stakeholders about the outcomes they want you to deliver. You can then follow the basic rule in all service organisation.

You can use your strengths to do superb work and help all your stakeholders to achieve success.

There are many ways to be different. If you are going to be a deviant, however, you may sometimes need to over-deliver. One approach is to be positive, professional and deliver peak performances.

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to complete the following sentences.

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