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A Champion is More than an Athlete with a Ring

March 24, 2016 4 Min Read Career Progression
Bobbi D. Kelly, PHR, SHRM-CP
Bobbi D. Kelly, PHR, SHRM-CP Director-in-Charge, Talent Advisory

Admittedly, as the ultimate Philadelphia sports fan I react defensively (as many frustrated Philly fans do) when people bring up the word "champion." I explain the Billy Penn curse, how Joe Buck seems to hate Philadelphia even when we are winning, and remind people that we just won the World Series, thankyouverymuch (really, was it 8 years ago, already?).

So when I sit down with various members of our firm and they ask me, "What do I need to do to get to the next level?" I am careful in crafting my answer. Knowing that many of them are also avid Philadelphia sports fans, I tell them, "You need to find a champion."

So what do I mean by that? This blog is written assuming that you already have all the makings of "getting ahead" - hard worker, team player, efficient, good client service skills, thirst for learning, etc. All of that assumed, the secret ingredient in taking your career to the next level is a champion- and no, not one who has a flashy ring. You need someone who will be your voice when you aren't there. Someone who will speak up for you behind closed doors. Someone who believes you can "make it" even when you aren't so sure yourself. Your champion is your walking spokesperson. 

Many people will give you the advice that you need a mentor in your professional career and I won't argue that. I have many mentors myself, both inside and outside of Kresicher Miller. You can find plenty of blogs about why it is important to find a mentor and how to go about doing so. But I am here to give you the inside scoop on how to find yourself that all-important champion. 

Sometimes finding or having a champion is a very organic process; other times, it takes a little thought and effort. When you need to put some thought behind it, ask yourself these four questions:

  1. Who knows, specifically, what my professional goals are? Don't assume people know what you want out of your career or what your timeline is. Speak up. Be specific. Decision makers are not mind readers.
  2. Who does that person know or talk to? Telling your peers or friends that you expect to be promoted this year won't necessarily help you get there. Make sure you are telling someone who is connected to or is a decision maker.
  3. Does that person get excited about my accomplishments? Or at least, can I get them excited about my accomplishments? Someone who never seems to advocate for themselves or celebrate their own wins will be less likely to advocate for you or celebrate your successes.
  4. Do I have opportunities to show them my capabilities? While it is important to speak up and be specific, it is also important that you find ways to show your champion what you are made of. Ask to be on their jobs, work on special projects for them, or make presentations with/for them. You will arm your champion with much more "material" on you if they can speak from firsthand experience about your capabilities. 

Know that this process does not happen overnight. It takes time. But I promise you, it is time well spent. As you travel along your career, keep those four questions in mind and I guarantee you will find that champion-flashy ring or not! 

Bobbi D. Kelly, PHRBobbi Kelly is Kreischer Miller's Director of Human Resources. Bobbi has over 11 years of experience providing human resources advisory services to a variety of businesses, including privately - held companies and partnerships. Bobbi joined Kreischer Miller in 2014. Contact Bobbi at Email.

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Bobbi D. Kelly, PHR, SHRM-CP

Bobbi D. Kelly, PHR, SHRM-CP

Director-in-Charge, Talent Advisory

Talent Advisory Specialist

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