She’s driving you crazy. You know exactly whom I mean. When the client is around she’s sweet, soft, and says all the right things. The client is enamored with her because she is smart and an asset to the team.

The only problem is that nobody else likes her. She’s a raging bitch the minute the client is gone and she is constantly dissing team members who can’t keep up with her demands (because she can’t communicate what she wants).

In this fifth and final piece about building your Personal Value Proposition (the series starts here) we look at how to be liked and respected in a team. To demonstrate my point, I’m going to use a component from my book Happy Woman Happy World, the 3 Pillars of The Women’s Code: Awareness, Support, and Collaboration.

Awareness shows us how to take a step back and observe so we can be clear about what is going on. We do this always without judgment. This isn’t about you or anyone else; this is about what is. Awareness can tell us ‘this is what I am good at’ and ‘this is what you are better at.’ With awareness, we understand we need a team to get projects moving. It is inclusive, not narcissistic.

Support, the second Pillar, asks us to question whether we are getting the support we need and if we are giving our teams the support they need in return. The end result is an indicator of how well you lead. My dad used to say, “Language is the sole reason for misunderstandings.” Misunderstandings arise from poor communication about 90% of the time. If things didn’t turn out as well as you hoped, was it because you didn’t express your vision of the shooting day and what you wanted clearly?

I want you to shift your thinking from ‘fixing’ and ‘helping’ to ‘supporting’ when working in a team. “How can I support you with this”? Always double-check that your instructions or directives are clear. Did I explain this properly? Does this make sense? Will you please tell me in your words what I am asking you to do/contribute?

A few months after I immigrated to the USA from Germany, I was a representative for hair and make-up artists and I met one of the very first (ever!) Vogue photographers, Barry Lategan. I am sure you know of his iconic images of skinny model Twiggy. Lategan is a living legend and he had traveled to Los Angeles from Paris for this assignment. It was my job to show him portfolios of our artists so he could choose the right one for the job. I was accustomed to photographers criticizing the artists for the make-up, lipstick color, and hairstyles in the photos. But Barry looked at all the portfolios and, after what seemed like an eternity, he said five words that changed my career. He told me, “Any one of them will do.”


And then it dawned on me. He was so assured of his own skills that he could get anyone to deliver the results he wanted. I have made this my mantra.

Turning back to you, your PVP stands and falls with your ability to get your clients and your team to buy into your vision. That means you have to communicate it and its benefits clearly.

For my coaching clients, I teach the three basic principles of Leadership Mastery.

  1. Always be clear about what you want
  2. Set an objective and communicate it
  3. Know your negotiables and non-negotiables

Finally, I ask them to explain things so simply that a child could understand—not because they have a team of idiots, but because my clients are master leaders. Instructions are short, clear, and simple. You need to understand what is important to communicate to your team and crew right now.

And remember, you are probably very good at things that come naturally to you, but that doesn’t mean your team has the same skills. You won’t think you need to explain things that are so simple to you. But keep in mind this rule of thumb: the easier it is for you, the more explaining you have to do.

And that leads to the third Pillar of collaboration. Collaboration is easy when you are clear about who you are, what you want, and where everybody else is (awareness, no judgment), and when you give and get support. You contribute your part and show a sincere desire to take those around you to the top with you. That is how you become liked and respected by your team. You cannot make it to the top on your own.

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