Professional Summit 2021: Back to the Basics
This last weekend we went down to Greenville, SC to spend time with Don Barefoot, former President and CEO of the C12 Group, going through intensive professional development from s biblical worldview. We had a total of 5 sessions covering a range of topics by reviewing Don's career background, Moral Free Enterprise, and Peak Performance Principles. Here is a review of a few main points from this weekend to help you think through being a Christ focused professional.
Vocational Basics: Being an asset to your company
One of the very first practical paradigms we encourage young professionals to have is one of excellence. Many first time jobs will have tasks, responsibilities, projects, etc. that we can think are below us, frustrating, simple, complex, or the like. The way you handle these tasks will either affirm your benefit to the company or show you as a liability.
As young professionals we want to become assets to our companies or current cultures. Yet, we don't start off in high level positions that we view as culture shaping. So how do we contribute where we start off? First, we think of the word diligence. Don referred to diligence as, "working in earnest unto the Lord with intentionality and intelligence while pursing wisdom from Christ." Each task we face as young professionals says a lot about our character.
There are times you will be asked to do things that you would prefer not to do, yet when you face those tasks with diligence it will show you as someone who can take on more tasks. We see this in the parables of the talents in Matt. 25:14-30 where at the end the owner says, "You have been faithful over little, I will set you over much." This is the same way we look at these entry level positions. Those young professionals that are faithful with little will be given more.
So what if you don't have much to do? Many times we find some of those beginner jobs or certain days come where we have less work than paid time. How does one become diligent in your work during these times? Once again this comes back to being faithful with what God gives us. When you look at your boss or those around you at work you can see that they will have tasks they can't get to that you can see and be the solution to.
In situations like this, one thing Don recommended is typing up a list of tasks/things that you could take on that would be a benefit. How can you find and fill your time while building up your credibility as a young professional? God calls us to be diligent in each task and or calling we are in. Instead of waiting for someone to give you tasks, teach you how to do something, grow your level of responsibility, present opportunities to your employer/boss.
Leading Up: Servant Leadership
We all know that leadership can make or break a company. Even looking at studies done in the past, such as Good to Great by Jim Collins can broaden your understanding of the benefits of the type of leadership that has created the most successful companies. This type of leadership is servant leadership. The top 11 companies during the time he did this study were led through servant leadership and not celebrity CEOs.
Relationship building is one of the key aspects of servant leadership. Those great leaders that make great differences in their companies or communities are those who spend the time getting to know their employees. What are their strengths, weaknesses, growth points, desires, ambitions? These help you know what motivates your employees. If you know what will benefit your employee, you become invested in their success and they become invested in your company's success.
As a young professional, one of the ways you can practice this principle is by getting to know your bosses, coworkers, and other blue collar / manual labor employees to know how you can help them and ways you can grow from their experiences. The habits you formulate today will manifest themselves later in your career and future leadership positions. If you want to lead through compassion, start by showing compassion to those around you now. If you value clear communication in leadership, start by creating clear communication now.
Start Now: Become an Expert
There is much more that could and should be mentioned in this discussion, but we will wrap up here. With so many opportunities for improvement and growth - where do you begin?
Don's habit throughout his career was to read something that contributed to his vocational advancement for just 15 minutes each day. Doing this consistent habit will help make anyone an expert in their field or discipline throughout their career. A great way to start is by reading content like Good to Great. Even if you don't have this book, which is a worthwhile investment, some of his articles show his findings that can help you as a professional. As we have discussed before, reading is an important component of the Piedmont Fellows experience and is a habit of most leaders who think critically and not only advance in their careers but make contributions in the marketplace and communities.
Are these some ways you want to grow and develop as you start out your professional career? Are you looking for a post undergrad work experience or internship? For more information about our program or to apply click here!