Recently, my wife and I discussed a question her manager had posed to all his direct reports: “Who’s your ‘who’?” In other words, “Who’s that person or people that comes to mind when you ask yourself ‘Why do I do this?'” In our conversation, both mine and my wife’s answer were simultaneous, unanimous, and I imagine common for many individuals: it was each other and our children.
However, this got me thinking: is “who” limited to our families? There are several individuals or groups of individuals that drive us to do the best we can. Looking for that common thread of “who’s my who” in my personal and professional life has helped me I realize that I had several “whos” outside of my family: my SEI colleagues and clients.
While two distinct individuals, I’ve noticed my wife and I display common characteristics as we work to provide for our family. Unsurprisingly, I also see these same qualities amongst my SEI colleagues in how they serve their clients and each other. My analytical side began to dissect what aspects differentiated doing the bare minimum versus putting full effort for your “who”. I didn’t have to look far as the Approach section on our company website perfectly described what makes a consultant, and by extension, an individual who is truly exceptional: consistency, commitment, and collaboration. Consistency indicates an expected level of effort and quality. Commitment promises that we will be back, no matter how difficult the previous day or problem was. Collaboration displays cognizance of our individual limits and demonstrates our trust in each other.
No matter what problem we’re tasked with, our clients have come to expect a level of quality from SEI consultants. Whether it be in program management, business intelligence, process optimization, or implementation, SEI consultants strive to meet and exceed expectations. Often times you will see SEI consultants adhering to best practices, creative implementations of frameworks, and good old-fashioned hard work to ensure clients are successful.
Within our office, SEI consultants rely on each other to grow the business through knowledge sharing, best practices, and lessons learned insights. A consultant’s lack of experience in one particular area becomes an opportunity for another consultant to make you their “who”, and support you in success.
Commitment speaks to the idea that we’ll do what we must to ensure the client is successful. This often manifests itself in long hours, weekends, doing that little “extra”. “Client first” isn’t a just a policy, it’s a recognition that the client is our “who”, and their success is our success.
Amongst our SEI colleagues, commitment manifests itself as the reassurance that every consultant has what they need to be successful; whether it be technical or strategic expertise, the external resources to enhance our skillset, or even just morale support in tough times. It’s reassuring to know that regardless of what question, scenario, or advice you are seeking, it will be met by at least one SEI consultant going above and beyond to make you their “who”. This commitment also assures you that the “world is not on your shoulders”, and you can share the burden with others willing and able to help.
Collaboration is the mechanism that ties it all together. Every single day at the client, we’re driven by the question “How do I help my client solve this problem?” Our collaboration portal is teeming with threads where SEI’ers are bringing together their ranges of experience and expertise, to ensure we get one step closer to that answer. Collective Value is the confidence that each SEI consultant carries with them. We know they can tackle any problem, because we’re the “who” of every other rockstar SEI consultant.
Within SEI, collaboration the lifeblood of our company. It is not only how we deliver at the client, but how we grow our business. Consultants come together to build tools and processes that help run and grow our business. We constantly analyze, refine, and debate if what we’re building makes us stronger as a whole. Attention to how these changes can impact work life balance, ensure that we’re not only serving our professional lives, but each of our “who’s”. We’re building something for all the “who’s” in our life; both professionally and personally.
There’s a special type of motivation associated with someone relying on you. It can be called peer pressure, but I feel that’s not accurate in describing your “who”. It’s really an aspect of servant leadership that values putting others before yourself; and you become better for it. Having both personal and professional “who’s” forces you to grow and become better. So ask yourself two questions: who’s your “who” in your professional life? Are you ready to become one of ours?