Personal Leadership Lesson 3: Know your Value

Knowing your value in the marketplace is an important component in establishing personal leadership.  In our first post in this series, we focused on how much emphasis recently has been placed on women’s issues, particularly in the workplace, and in women having the ability to know their value in the market.  It seems as though much of the issue stems from women not knowing their value or undervaluing themselves whether it be as a news anchor as one recent book discusses or whether it be as a stay-at-home mom with a side business.  I’m guilty of this, are you?  Do women just not know what they are worth or do they just feel uncomfortable defining it and talking about it?

Our first two lessons in personal leadership focused on inward influence by defining a personal mission and knowing when tounbalance yourself for the sake of your mission.

But why is knowing your value important, for a male or female, in establishing personal leadership? Taking influence to the next step, you must be able to influence others, and one of the major things we influence others in is our worth to them.

Keys to define value:

Economics 101: What will the market bear? It’s a supply and demand thing.  Whether you are a computer programmer looking for a job, a business owner considering how to price services, or a mom trying to sell your kids clothing they’ve outgrown on eBay, you need to know first what the going rate is for what you do or what you are selling.

As an employee, is a good place to start (although I think some of the rates here are inflated based on the area of the country you are looking) as well as  Seek out salary survey data particular to your industry and area to understand what the market rate is for what you do.

For business owners or budding entrepreneurs, look at companies or individuals that provide similar services to you and see what they charge.  Usually an average of this data is a good place to start in pricing your services or goods.

Is it Fair?  Nine times out of ten, what the market is going to bear is a fair price.   My husband and I recently returned from one of his I-must-do-this-before-I-die trips.  We spent Saturday and Sunday at the Master’s in August, GA.   We paid $300 for a roach motel in Augusta (it would have cost $50 on any other weekend) and talked to one gentleman at the tournament whose company had six weeklong passes and had rented a home for the week for a whopping $40,000.   Unfair you say?  People are paying it, and if no one is getting exploited, it’s a supply and demand thing.  You decide.  Maybe we should all go buy houses in Augusta!

Want to be legit? Charge for what you do and don’t discount it.  And time is money, charge for it.  The first lesson I had in taking a business start-up class was to charge for the services or good provided, even to your best friend.   If you’ve done your research on what the market will bear and its fair, why would you feel the need to apologize for your fee or discount for it?  It’s only a hobby if you don’t charge for it; therefore and unfortunately, people won’t take what you do seriously.

I recently got a gift certificate as a birthday present from friends for an interior designer to come spend a couple hours at our house to tell us what she thought needed to be done.   When we were finishing up, I asked her how she structured her rates, in particular if I wanted to get some window treatments done through her.  She embarrassedly said that because people had taken advantage of her time, she was now charging for the time she spent selecting fabrics and coordinating with the person who made the window treatments for her.  She apologized to me numerous times for having to charge for her time (why, I don’t know). She had spent hours picking out fabric for clients, shown them to them, only for them to say, “Oh, I don’t think I want to do this anymore,” and all her time had been lost on something she didn’t generate a penny of revenue doing.

It’s just money.  Don’t be embarrassed to talk about it.   Discuss upfront your salary requirements, fees or prices before starting any arrangement or selling a product and don’t be afraid to negotiate.  If you’ve done your research, you know what you are worth and you can establish legitimacy and personal leadership by having an honest conversation about money before you start.

Continually prove your worth.  Do a great job (not a good job, but a great one) day in and day out.  This is personal leadership at the core.  Your worth will be communicated in your actions that lead to results, further increasing your value.   It’s easy to get what you’re worth when people can’t live without you, or at least perceive that they can’t.

When have you had a hard time communicating your value?




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Mary Ila Ward