How to stand out at work

Standing out
By Alex Burden, Professional Development Editor

26 January 2017

You’re ready for a new challenge or to make your mark in your role, but you’re not too thrilled with the idea of shameless self-promotion and emphasising achievements.

Maybe your performance reviews feel lack-lustre with woolly objectives that are not tied to the areas where you can make real change? If this sounds like you, it’s time to stand out from the crowd!

What do you stand for?

Your value-system is created from an early age and continually refined as you encounter new challenges or experiences throughout your life. This includes positive and negative values and sets the tone for your personal standards and discipline.

It comes from both vice and virtue and forms the foundation for your code of rules to live by. This quick and useful video by MindTools describes how to identify your value system and streamline it to reveal your personal priorities:

If your values relate to environmental concerns, and these are not reflected in your workplace, then could you instigate a new recycling programme or identify sustainable suppliers of office equipment? 

If you value your personal time away from work with family and friends, does your work-life balance achieve this?

Think about when you are at your happiest within your role and what factors influence this. If you were driven by fresh challenges in your early career, think about how to recapture this through setting new goals and challenges.

ICAS has teamed up with global behavioural profile provider, MoralDNA™, to help members discover their personal workplace culture and values with a free online tool.

James Clear has set out more than 50 core values that are used within leadership and professional development programmes – take a moment to see where you fit.

Speak to people of influence

If you have ideas to take bolster your companies’ reputation or maximise certain areas of business, then take those ideas to the people who could support them as tangible actions. Even if it’s not possible for the idea to go ahead, you will have already marked yourself out as proactive and forward-thinking.

Where are you going?

Glen Llopis is a business consultant, entrepreneur and motivational speaker – he has suggested key questions to ask yourself (and trusted parties) when deciding on how to move forward and stand out from the crowd, such as:

What would be the title and subject of my autobiography?

This will help you think about yourself in a new light, and get perspective on how others see you. Perhaps you’re more resilient than you previously thought, and this is something that can be emphasised in performance reviews. 

For example, the business might have had a tough year or project setbacks, but you know that you persevered to achieve the best outcome for the organisation despite any challenges.

Keep a list of your achievements on a weekly or monthly basis – it’s not possible for employers or line-managers to get a permanent 360-degree view of what their employees are doing, and vice-versa, so make time to convey this information. It’s not boasting when it’s accurate!

Now think about the road ahead – how do you want your autobiography to change? Some people might not tackle literal mountains like Everest until middle-age, but it does not make that achievement any less in others’ eyes.

Get a strategy

Speaker and Inc. Magazine Contributing Editor Jeff Haden wrote: “Great employees also spend some time helping themselves succeed, both for “selfish” reasons and because their success creates success for others.”

Perhaps you are a successful CA but your work calls for increasingly specialised tax or audit skills – volunteering for more training, or even undertaking it in your own time will be massively beneficial for not only yourself but the wider business.

You could rally a group of like-minded peers to create an informal skills-improvement group and make plans to achieve buy-in from HR or your line manager. Just having a strategy that is linked to the development of the business is enough to make others take note and pay attention to your ideas.

Don’t worry about the competition

So, others seem to be getting noticed and in record time? Don’t let this distract from your own goals. By analysing what they have done, and what you didn’t do, you delay your own success. It’s about what you can deliver, and how you can deliver it, and this may take a very different strategy from a colleague.

Learning to be awesome at anything you do, including being a leader | Tasha Eurich | TEDxMileHigh

“Can we learn to lead, or is leadership something we're born with? In this thought-provoking talk, Tasha Eurich shares a prescription to be not just awesome at leadership, but anything else you want to improve.”

Do you feel like you stand out from the crowd? What is your advice to other CAs? Tell us in the comments below.


  • Career development
  • Leadership and management

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