Why Accountants Should Speak Up and Prosper
When I worked as a management consultant in the Washington, DC area years ago, I used to speak to local civic and professional groups at lunch and after work. Thereafter, when I spoke up in and around my own company, people noticed that I did so with greater ease and professionalism.
The elocution practice that I put in as a public speaker paid off in terms of my advancement in my firm. Even though no one had seen or known that I was speaking to groups on the side, the effects were clearly visible to them. My bosses must have noticed, because at one point my salary increased $10,500 in a 14-month period. And, in the five-year period, my salary increased by $31,750. Thirty year ago, this was serious money (at least to me!)
Dynamics at Play
I don't relate the above to boast but rather offer it as one example of the dynamics at play when you go the extra mile, regardless of your age. A little extra effort, here and there, will not diminish your ability to can maintain a happy balance between your professional and personal life.
In my last position as a management consultant, in a forty person firm in suburban Virginia, before venturing off on my own to become a professional speaker and author, I rose to Vice President of Marketing and Project Manager. In that capacity, I was the third ranking officer in a firm of forty, even though I was younger than half of our entire staff and all of the other project managers.
If you want to grow as a person and as a career professional, you have many options:
- Take a leadership position in a social organization, be it chair of the new member committee, programs and activities, or meeting registration or reception.
- Volunteer to participate in an election campaign; you're likely to be counted on based on your intelligence, energy, and creativity, independent of your age.
- Join a debate club.
- Volunteer to take a role in a local play, particularly a role where you'll have some significant speaking parts.
- Take a course on acting. Ronald Reagan did.
- Take a Dale Carnegie course or other public speaking course where you have an opportunity to engage in exercises that verbally stretch your interpersonal communication patterns.
Opportunities in Adversity
Beyond the work place and specific social situations, be on the lookout for other opportunities where you can increase your interpersonal skills. Continually take small steps forward, in adverse situations, to maintain equanimity. For example:
- Someone cuts in front of you in a line.
- A salesperson keeps you waiting unduly long.
- Someone tries to put down you, your family, your ethnic background, your religion, etc.
I remember being somewhat slighted when it came to getting service at a department store. It seemed there was always someone else who salesclerks seemed to call on first, even if I had been at the counter first. On more than one occasion, I found myself taking a half-step forward and saying, "Excuse me, but I was here first." Often, that was enough to get my request acknowledged and fulfilled.
Jeff Davidson, a.k.a. “The Work-life Balance Expert”®, speaks to accounting firms and associations on increasing their work-life balance so they can be more productive and competitive, and still have a life away from work. He is the author of Everyday Project Management, Breathing Space, and Simpler Living. Visit breathingspace.com.