Imitation and Your Professional Development

IMG_0977 IMG_0978When it comes to your professional development, you can practice and acquire many skills that you need to be successful.  Some of these skills include public speaking, networking and business writing.  These skills along with the resources and methods for acquiring them are the subject of my book, Career-ology 101 which will be published later this fall.

You can acquire many other skills by observing other professionals and practice those skills using imitation. These skills are often referred to as “soft-skills” and some examples include: teamwork, conflict resolution, decision making and time management.    George Bernard Shaw, the Irish playwright, socialist, and a co-founder of the London School of Economics, said, Imitation is not just the sincerest form of flattery – it’s the sincerest form of learning.”

Using an example of how corporations utilize imitation, the photos above show how Microsoft has imitated the highly successful Apple store.  These stores are nearly identical including the layout, the store fixtures, and the floor plan.  Even the employees’ name tags are identical.  Microsoft is not trying to hide its effort to imitate Apple here.

As a professional, you can use imitation to advance your career by acquiring many skills and practices that are necessary for success.  You can select several people in your organization, your industry or other high-profile professionals (i.e., Steve Jobs) and imitate the best skills of each.  For example, you might imitate the way your manager resolves team conflict, while you might look to a colleague (peer) who is able to build great rapport with clients.

Here are some important considerations when using imitation in the workplace:

  • choose the right person/people – if you are unsure, you’ve probably  selected the wrong person
  • select the “best of the best” – select several people and imitate each person’s best skills
  • practice these skills by imitation, but don’t be “creepy” – unlike the example above with Microsoft and Apple, blatantly imitating a colleague could be extremely awkward;  use your judgement and apply your own unique personality
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