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What the GOP Presidential Race Can Teach Us about Standing Out

[caption id="attachment_5566" align="aligncenter" width="638"]Travis Dove for the New York Times Travis Dove for the New York Times[/caption]

 

When John Kasich announced his intention to run last week, he entered the Republican presidential race as the 16th candidate, joining a very large pool of hopeful candidates. The field began small with Ted Cruz’s announcement in March, and since then the group has blossomed into an overwhelming sea of GOP hopefuls.

Many candidates have made attempts to distinguish themselves in unique ways, knowing their names could get lost in the shuffle unless they’re proactive. They know they have to stake their ground early if they have any hope of winning the nomination.

The same problem faces many employees when they join large companies or departments. They know their own strengths, but they’re part of a big group; how can they stand out?

Here are several ideas for how to stand out on a big team, inspired by the Republican Party race:

 

Find your niche


As a former neurosurgeon with little political experience, Ben Carson seems unlikely to be the Republican Party’s choice for the 2016 election. Yet he’s currently ranking 6th in the polls behind heavyweights like Jeb Bush and Scott Walker because he’s taken a strong stance as on healthcare. Carson has been a vocal opponent of Obamacare as a Fox News commentator, and this experience coupled with his identity as a doctor has gained him popularity… and campaign money.

Employees use the same strategies when working in a big group: find a topic relevant to the job or the company, and become a subject matter expert. Read books, industry blogs, and stay up to date on the news. Work to be the person the rest of the team goes to when they have a question on the issue. Become indispensable.

 

Be the first one in… and stay late


Ted Cruz was the first to announce his intention to run, entering the race in March. While his poll numbers have taken a hit since he first announced – 15 other candidates will do that – announcing early has given Cruz more time to fundraise, more time to officially set his position, and more time to maximize his exposure.

Many GOP candidates spend months pretending to consider running before they inevitably announce their candidacy, but Cruz’s willingness to enter early demonstrated decisiveness and confidence, and it could make all the difference.

It’s easier to be noticed on a big team when you’re the first one in the office in the morning and the last to leave. Get to the office early and spend the extra quiet time getting tricky tasks out of the way. On the other hand, don’t hesitate to stay late to complete a big project. Show management you’re willing to do what it takes for the company to succeed.

 

Be controversial


Donald Trump has made a campaign out of controversy; from his early comments on immigration to his latest jabs at John McCain, Trump has successfully kept his name in the headlines while other candidates have struggled to break through. While not everyone may agree with his opinions, it’s hard to deny he’s doing what few of the other GOP candidates are: standing out.

There are a lot of ways to stand out in the workplace without making comments that may make HR nervous. Find ways to take risks, big and small, within your role. Don’t be afraid to play devil’s advocate during company or team meetings; challenging peers in a constructive manner will only make everyone stronger.

 

Own your accomplishments


John Kasich may seem late to the running, but he enters the race on a strong platform of fiscal success as the governor of Ohio. During his two terms as governor, Kasich brought Ohio out of an $8 billion deficit to their current surplus. In 2014, the state’s economy grew by 2.1%, surpassing all neighboring states’ growth.

Kasich knows this fiscal success, coupled with his 18 years on the House Armed Services Committee, is the key to any success he’ll have in the race. While it’s still early, he’s playing his strong cards heavily.

After closing a big deal, finishing a major project, or hitting an important goal, make sure your manager knows. Communicate the success to them, and explain how it moves the needle for the company. This can be done without being boastful or arrogant; it’s important for leadership to know what you contribute, and it doesn’t hurt to display confidence and competence, especially when working on a big team.

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