Being an underdog at work could be your greatest weapon

Walt Disney, Albert Einstein and even JK Rowling are some of the most famous underdogs. They were thought to be ineffective people and pushed to the sidelines from where they worked their way quietly to the top.

You have probably felt like an underdog at one time in your career. You don’t know the right people, you do not stand out among the top dogs and generally feel like you are just getting by. Work dynamics can make you feel like an underdog at the workplace. What most people do not acknowledge is that underdogs actually possess a massive competitive advantage if they press the right buttons and play their cards right. Being an underdog is a challenge to embrace but it can be your ticket to greatness.

How? You may ask.

SEE ALSO :Smart ways to deal with passive-aggressive behaviour at work

1.    Nothing constrains your opportunities

Those who seem to have ‘established’ themselves have a lot to lose should they decide to change their ways of doing business. Their reputation, assets and power are at stake whenever they make major decisions. Underdogs on the other hand are not held to any standard. The state of being limitless is powerful on its own. You just need to strategise and map out your path to success. You have a new chance to be creative and bring out-of-the-box ideas.

2.    Underdogs have immunity to complacency

For More of This and Other Stories, Grab Your Copy of the Standard Newspaper.  

Underdogs possess this ever optimistic “can-do” attitude. It is possible that sometimes their efforts backfire. But more often than not, this attitude ensures that they learn new skills and push themselves over their comfort zone. That hunger for knowledge accompanied by tenacity and resilience makes them immune to complacency. In addition, because they are normally overlooked, they are less likely to take things for granted. If you know what its like to have limited resources and dismal support, you will be more grateful for any positive situation. Gratitude brings that contagious lively cheer. If you are competing for a promotion with a much more experienced colleague, let your inherent optimism and enthusiasm to learn new things contribute to the company’s goals and market you for an upgrade. If you are overlooked as an employee, gather your skills and knowledge and make your mark to meet — and exceed — the company’s expectations.

3.    It pays to be unconventional

SEE ALSO :How diverse should company boards be?

When you are considered an underdog, it also means that there is someone else who is already perceived as a more suitable candidate for a promotion or leadership role. When you are compared to their standards, you will definitely come up short. To get yourself ahead of the pack and set yourself up for the job, you need to be a little more unconventional. Bypass the rules to some extent to look into the loopholes that exist in the system. Offer suitable solutions to fix them and inclusive set-ups for the company. Be non-traditional while still observing the company’s mission and vision and relating well with the objectives. This will get you more noticeable and expose your unique set of qualities. Your diversity and creativity will market you. You will prove to your company that you are not only motivated by incentives and recognition, but also by blending your personal, professional and organisational growth.

4.    It is an opportunity to showcase your strong work ethic

One of the most impressive qualities underdogs have is the inner drive to succeed. These are people who have likely gone through considerable struggle to get where they are now. To wade through the murky waters of career progression, they have managed to make strides without compromising their values and company’s integrity. They offer the most suitable pool of leaders any organisation will need. Because of their display of professionalism in the face of tough tasks, resourcefulness and strong observational skills, they quickly master how to work with a diverse team.

5.    History backs it up

The Biblical story about David and Goliath is a perfect example. David was physically a smaller person who was pitched to battle it out with the gigantic Goliath. You would have expected Goliath to win but no, he was taken out by a little man with a big swing.

The FIFA World Cup has also taught us not to easily dismiss underdogs. Many favoured teams end up learning that there’s normally more competition from the “younger” teams.

Closer home, we have seen how Safaricom’s leadership has been. Majority of Kenyans wondered if the late Bob Collymore  would fit into Michael Joseph’s shoes. MJ founded Safaricom in Kenya on extensive roots. Anyone who comes after the pioneer in any business setting is bound to be faced by challenges. Without an academic degree, Collymore grew to the helm of one of the most profitable companies in Kenya. He became the face of Safaricom. He wasn’t Kenyan by birth but his contribution to the Kenyan economy was outstanding. He managed to bring a balance between economic nationalism and business.

What these stories teach us is that no matter how circumstances appear stacked against us, the game is not over. We might not look like those who have made it before us, but we all have a set of unique abilities that spur the greatness in us. Let’s learn to explore our full potential to become the best we can be.

Do not miss out on the latest news. Join the Standard Digital Telegram channel HERE.

Get the latest summary of news in your email every morning. Subscribe below

* indicates required
WorkplaceUnderdogEmploymentLife skills