• shane@countryexec.com
  • Seguin, Texas
10 Professional Attributes That Will Elevate Your Career

10 Professional Attributes That Will Elevate Your Career

Occasionally when speaking to the journey that has led me to where I am today, I am asked how my career came to be what it is. It has been a fun, wild ride. Full of adventure defined by taking chances that shaped me as an adult and embracing experiences beyond the status quo of how I was raised. This constitutes a life well lived in my opinion. Almost a quarter century since I gave an oath to serve my country as a young man I have arrived at a point where I can share insight as to what I thought would work for me. What I now know will work for others. Today I know how to help elevate and grow your career.

What It Takes

Success is not rocket science. Incorporating basic principles into the fabric of who you are as a professional can transform how decision makers view you and lead you down a path to financial and professional freedom you may currently feel is unattainable. It very much is attainable, but you must work at it and do so extensively.

Long term success requires a long term commitment. You have to be amenable to the change required to grow personally and professionally. Not everyone can commit to what it takes. There is nothing wrong with that as long as that person looks in the mirror and knows it’s the person staring back at them that holds the key. Below are ten attainable professional attributes anyone can leverage to flourish in their current or future capacities. To elevate your career.

Elevate your career

1. Be good at what you do

Sounds simple right? I want to say that it is. I’m not certain that is correct because of the contingencies that lie within a particular organization and the individual(s) you may report to. One of the goals I sought to attain in every position I’ve had is to determine what it is my superiors were looking to get out of me and deliver on that premise.

Perhaps that requires you to over communicate. Provide metrics and updates for every action, task, and/or project happening under your purview. I’ve worked for bosses that prefer the bare minimum as far as updates. They primarily wanted me to keep things moving forward. Give them a heads up if something negative is looming.

Some wanted to have a beer after work, others not. I have always felt it was my job to figure out what they wanted and to ensure I delivered. I term this as “managing your manager” and it is a professional tactic I educate staff on today.

Conversely, as a people manager I’ve also always felt it was my responsibility to determine how to motivate a staff member to get the most out of them and encourage them to grow as a professional. Adapt my approach on a singular level to what they need me to be. This thought process can be tied back to the justification of performing character or personality assessments.

DiSC Assessment And Growing Your Career

If you are familiar with the DiSC assessment for example, I will share with you that I am a dominant personality which equates to someone who is direct, results driven, and strong willed. Dominant personalities are a small percentage of the general population. Most of society can be characterized within the other three personality types defined as influencers, conscientious, or steady.

I like to have people managers complete the assessment to give them a tool for communicating with their staff. Also to educate me as to how I should communicate with them. It’s a powerful tool to leverage and get an inside track to how an individual’s mind works. Invaluable for maximizing productivity in a work center. To be good at what you do it is necessary to find and perform wrinkles to get the most out of your professional situation.

Becoming A Leader Of Character

If you’d like to know about leveraging principles of the mind, I recommend reading Dave Anderson’s book “Becoming a Leader of Character.” He also does a training course that I have taken and would recommend here. Please note this is purely a recommendation based off my personal belief Dave Anderson’s instruction holds significant value for both experienced and aspiring leaders. I am not affiliated with him, his courses, or his book. I do not profit from his work in any capacity. We have met and I respect his work, I do not know him beyond that.

2. Invest in yourself

If I have learned anything in my career it is that you cannot realistically expect an organization to elevate you on the basis of performing your current role well. Good employees should be recognized and rewarded for their work. You also have to think of it from the standpoint of the employer. They hired you to do a job, and you are expected to do that job well. As such if you are performing well in your job function, you are doing exactly what they hired you to do. I believe that to be a fair trade of services in the eyes of an employer.

With that being said how you can elevate from your current role is by investing in yourself. Obtaining knowledge either through formal education, certifications or other knowledge conduits. Your current employer may pay for it, or maybe they won’t. That shouldn’t stop you from progressing in your professional development.

You Get What You Put In

I once paid $3500 for a training program out of my own pocket because I believed it was what I needed to take the next step in my career. Yes, I had to take the financial hit up front. Hindsight being 20/20 I now make 30k more than I did when I paid for the course in 2016. I moved into my current role two and a half years ago. I have earned more than 60k for that $3500 investment. That equates to a 1700%+ return over that span. Any financial advisor would tell you to run, not walk towards an opportunity such as that.

3. Take pride in your efforts

Some may feel this is the same as being good at what you do, know there’s a difference. This feels like a no brainer, but my life experience says that it is not. I recently wrote a post referencing the quote “how you do anything is how you do everything.” It’s one of my favorite quotes for its simplicity and truth on a fundamental level.

When you take pride in what you do it is reflected in your results, and it will help you stand out among peers. I generally will tie this to the aesthetics of a profession, but it has a virtual context as well. Using proper grammar, fully formed sentences in a work-related email would be an example. Whether it’s formatting a document, keeping your workspace tidy, or performing your assigned tasks to the best of your ability showing pride in your productivity outlets will only be viewed as positive.

4. Dress for the job you want, not the one you have

This is an adage that still rings true, and it is in use today because it is still accurate. For many years I made it a point to take notice of how my superiors dressed and adopt my own attire accordingly. I don’t personally agree that the clothes make the man. I am more of the mindset that the man makes the man but I do know more often than not individuals that make decisions impacting your career can and will judge you on how you choose to present yourself. Your professional attire speaks to how others view you, and it is an easy way to stand out among peers. Dress for success and rise to the occasion.

5. Be accountable to yourself and others

If you say you are going to do something, own conviction and do it within the constructs of the words you have stated. If you cannot meet a defined timeline, proactively engage with who is waiting on you to complete the task and keep them informed. Let them know before the deadline passes. As someone that constantly deals with vendors that struggle with accountability of even the most basic of positive business practices, the ones that own the communication necessary to keep efforts moving forward are held in high regard and earn continuity of business. Accountability is unfortunately a lost art in today’s professional world. Mandate your own personal accountability and you will absolutely gain from it.

6. Communicate

Communication makes the world go round! Determining and performing the communication required to maximize your professional role is fundamental to success. Each email, verbal conversation, text, or whatever the preferred communication mechanism is within your organization is an opportunity to seize a moment in a professional context.

I believe an individual that can communicate an idea versus create one holds more professional value. Particularly in my own industry (technology). It is not uncommon for senior leaders to struggle with the intricacies of the software and hardware platforms that run an enterprise. Someone that can explain in a way a non-technical mind can comprehend has immense value to an organization.

A word of caution though, we have two ears and one mouth for a reason. Use them accordingly as they say. Communication is a two-way street. Do not be consumed to the point of not actively engaging in waiting for your opportunity to share your thoughts. Listening to others is just as if not more valuable than getting your words in. I would argue the ratio of ears to mouths is correct as to how much you should speak versus listen.

7. Know your value

In 2014 words that reshaped my professional being were uttered to me. Those words were “you are what you signed for.” The context was that I had recently completed a large scale operational and data center relocation for a former employer on time and under budget, saving the company millions in leased space over the course of a short time frame. I detailed the project here in a previous post.

Upon completing the project and with my confidence at an all-time high I had researched where I stood salary wise versus my peers in the Silicon Valley, where I lived at the time. I was more than disheartened to learn I was in the bottom 10% of salary for my general job title. I deemed as unacceptable. In no plain of existence have I ever considered myself a bottom 10% employee. I immediately went out and obtained a new job offer with a 35% pay increase. I asked my employer at that time if they could do anything to bring me more inline with industry average.

Dictate Your Circumstances And Grow Your Career

It was then when I first heard the words that has motivated me ever since. Mostly because I knew my boss at the time was exactly right. Even though I had spent ten years in that organization and by all accounts was a good employee, they were under no obligation to provide anything more financially than what we mutually agreed to when I accepted the position. I was disappointed for sure when I heard that, but was also gratified in knowing that despite loving my job and considering myself fortunate to work in an environment such as that I had officially been released of the mental burden keeping me from moving on to the next opportunity.

Shortly after that conversation I accepted a new position with Dell. My new company brought me home to Texas, which I will forever be grateful for. I never looked back. Six years and four positions later I make 250% more than what I was making in 2014. I have never forgotten those words. And I thank the individual that educated me on what was necessary for me to grow professionally. Know your value and do not accept anything less.

8. Take care of yourself mentally and physically

It’s difficult to be the best version of you if there is baggage holding you down. Life’s baggage can be mental or physical. Know that you must take care of yourself first to take care of the other priorities in your life. Think of it from a family perspective. Maybe you want to have the energy to play with your kids after an exhausting day at the office. Perhaps you want clarity for a big project looming and need to get a restful night of sleep.

Regardless of what your motivation is it starts with you. I swear by getting a workout in first thing in the morning. I feel I have the most clarity while moving weights. My health comes first and I take pride in getting up early to take care of me.

If lifting weights isn’t your thing, figure out what is. Take advantage of your local parks. Walks and nature in general are beneficial to the soul and don’t require a dime! I recently alluded to my thoughts on fitness and the steps taken to maximize efficiency in that aspect of my life here. I encourage everyone to adopt a similar mindset.

9. Challenge yourself

It is the only way to grow. I am someone that loves a good routine. I am also cognizant that routines in a professional context can lead to apathy in job function. If you want more out of life you, must be willing to embrace the change necessary to grow your mind and skill set. To take the next step in your career you need to continuously improve on what you have to offer in exchange.

Do not be a victim of time or circumstance. If you want more then do more by challenging yourself with something that may make you feel uneasy. You may have serious trepidation as to if you can produce the desired outcome. If so, take that leap of faith and believe you possess the mental strength and ability to step up! To truly grow as a person and as a professional develop a complete disregard for where you believe your abilities end.

10. Don’t be afraid to fail

You ever notice a common question asked during a job interview is to explain a failure in your career and how you overcame it? There is nothing wrong with failing in a professional endeavor if you put your best effort and your heart into the task.

True failure stems from lacking the intestinal fortitude to begin. If you do come up short in a work project, assess why the desired outcome wasn’t attained. Learn from it, and throw your hat in the ring again with the knowledge gained in hand as to not repeat the cycle. You will be a more knowledgeable, experienced, prepared, and generally a better employee for the experience. An added benefit would be you may also have an impressive answer to that all to tricky hiring question when you’re trying to land that next opportunity.


Applying even a few of these attainable professional attributes can spark change. Perhaps it will be the catalyst needed to get you to that next step in your career. Many of these require no financial investment, only adaptation of a new way of conducting your mannerisms in the office. At the end of the day change lies within you. Opportunity is waiting to be seized by those willing to commit to what is necessary to obtain success. Why not you? Who you are today is not who you have to be tomorrow.

A benefit to being the best version you can be is that it leads to putting in an honest day’s work. This comes with its own value. I believe it speaks to maximizing the opportunity that is life. If you’re going to do something then do it to the best of your ability.

Be the best employee, the best husband, wife, father, mother, son, daughter, neighbor, or citizen that you can be. You will be a better person for it and will lead a life of fulfillment and significance. Thank you for reading, until next time please take care of yourself and the ones you love.

The Country Executive elevate your career

8 thoughts on “10 Professional Attributes That Will Elevate Your Career

    • Author gravatar

      Knowing your value is definitely a must for others to respect you.

    • Author gravatar

      I love the DISC assessments. I guess I’m in the small percentage. I’m a high D and high C. Not being afraid to fail is so important.

      • Author gravatar

        Personality assessments are fantastic for learning about yourself and others around you, I highly recommend utilizing it as a means to navigate a professional environment. If you have insight as to how to engage with someone based on their respective personality type you’re seriously ahead of the leadership game. Thank you for responding!

    • Author gravatar

      Love this! Especially the part about investing in yourself! So important! As so often overlooked.

      • Author gravatar

        Investing in my career through degrees and certifications was paramount to climbing the career ladder Kate. I’d like to think those doors would have opened regardless but I’m not certain they would have if I had not invested the time (and money) to learn, grow, and build my resume with acronyms. There were countless lost nights and weekends while I pursued that investment, but it paid off for me just like it will pay off for others that are willing to commit. Thank you so much for responding!

    • Author gravatar

      Well well written and compiled post. I think the point I struggle myself with is keeping yourself mentally well and trying to balance everything out. It’s a big struggle.

      MagicandBliss | https://magicandbliss.com/

      • Author gravatar

        Thank you for the comment. Life can certainly be a grind, even in the best of times! We often overlook the many positives in our lives and focus on the difficult aspects in front of us. I find the glass half full, positive spin on life in general via gratitude to be a great mechanism for keeping myself in the right frame of mind. Best of luck to you!

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