Career Advice, Watercooler

Four Ways To Strengthen Your Game Face At Work

When asked a question at work, do you respond from the gut, confidently, without hesitation or word framing?

Or have you found yourself in situations where your boss wrinkled his brow or looked at you incredulously as in, “Did you really just disrespect me in that way?” as a result of your inappropriate, arrogant or flippant tone? Or, perhaps your boss’s expression reflected dismay in your unrestricted flow of feelings on a particular topic or assignment.

In other words, how strong is your game face? defines ‘game face’ as: the neutral or intense facial expression of a determined and serious sports player.

I would add your game face is a mask used to suit up to play the part of a value-add contributor to the team. In the ‘what’s in it for me’ (WIIFM) world of business, where the ME is the company, you must put THEIR needs first in order to get to YOUR ultimate goals.

That said, I’ll offer a few traction-able action steps that show how donning your game face on behalf of the company’s needs will also help you to get what you want in your career:

  • Always, ALWAYS focus on their needs first. For example, if you are in a marketing assistant role, but you desire a promotion to marketing manager, show your leadership knack by graciously taking charge where you might normally submit to the direction of others. One way to determine where to focus your help is to pay close attention to the areas of overload your boss may be experiencing — and step up (without hesitation or attitude) to alleviate her load.
  • Taking charge may include executing an actionable project step OR, it may simply mean brewing a solution to a problem and presenting to your boss a more efficient and/or effective way of getting something done.
  • Be bold in calculated risk taking and be willing to put some skin in the game. Here may be the opportunity to show your ‘intense’ game face where you offer an emotional investment in personally ‘hitting the ball out of the ballpark’ on the team’s or company’s behalf. Fall down? Then pick yourself up and start over again. “Man up,” as they say. You learn and grow through your mistakes.
  • If given the opportunity to head up a team or a task force committee, DO it, without hesitation. Be the first to raise your hand, even though you may not know what you will be doing and how you will get it done! With a smile on your face, lead, don’t just follow – commit yourself to something that will extract you from your comfort zone. Even though initially frightening, you will unearth latent talents and find yourself adding new ‘wins’ to your career record in no time.

By consistently applying your game face, playing by the rules and displaying sportsman-like behavior, you earn the right to push the margins and ultimately become an innovator of new rules. Embedding yourself in the playing field, you become a high-scoring team member who, while driving home winning runs for the company also may find yourself being promoted to Team Captain (and beyond!).