The Key to Career Success, Satisfaction, and Fulfillment: Get “R.E.A.A.L.” at Work

4 min read

We often strive to be our best selves, and the same holds true in the workplace. But how can we achieve this? How can we bring our A-game every day and contribute to a work environment that inspires us and those around us? The answer lies in being REAAL – Resilient, Engaged, Accountable, Aligned, and living a Learning Mindset. These five pillars help build meaningful work relationships, increase self-awareness, and foster a work culture of mutual respect and trust.

In today’s fast-paced and ever-changing workplace, it’s more important than ever to embody the qualities of being REAAL. So, how do we “Get REAAL” at work?

Let’s take a closer look at each of the elements of the REAAL model:

1. RESILIENT

Being resilient in the workplace is a valuable skill that can help us navigate the inevitable challenges and setbacks that arise in our professional lives. The most resilient people are able to handle stress and adapt to change because they have a clear understanding of their strengths and weaknesses, can set achievable goals, are honest with themselves and others, and have an optimistic mindset. Resilience involves the ability to adapt and bounce back from difficult situations, rather than being overwhelmed and feeling stuck.

One of my favorite ways to evaluate resiliency traits is by using the Harrison Assessment, a behavioral-based evaluation that embraces and recognizes that failure and mistakes are opportunities for learning, growth, and even greater success. Resilience is like grit and perseverance, as described by Angela Duckworth. Grit is a trait that will take us over the finish line to achieve the goal. Resilience takes grit and perseverance to the next level. With resilience, we not only achieve the goal but also thrive by taking care of our physical, emotional, and mental well-being. Resilience enables us to have the energy to face stress and adversity with strength and clarity, while continuing to flourish, even after we cross the finish line.  

2. ENGAGED

Engagement in the workplace means being fully present, committed to one’s work, invested in the company’s success, and passionate about what the organization does. Engagement is not just about being productive and showing up.  Engaged employees are driven by a sense of purpose, finding fulfillment and satisfaction in their contributions. Moreover, they exhibit higher levels of productivity, creativity, and yes, resilience, too (each REAAL trait supports the others’ development). They are more likely to persevere through challenges and learn to find innovative solutions.

Research shows that we make the best decisions when we are engaged and inspired by our work. We seek opportunities to learn and grow while taking on new challenges with others to achieve common goals. As a result, engaged employees are more innovative and more likely to stay with the organization long-term. It is important to note, engagement is a two-way street – it is a shared responsibility. Each one of us has the power to take the initiative, clearly communicate our desires, contribute to the team, and be accountable for our own engagement!

3. ACCOUNTABLE

Did you know “data shows that 82% of managers acknowledge they believe they have ‘limited to no’ ability to hold others accountable successfully, and 91% of employees would say that ‘effectively holding others accountable’ is one of their company’s top leadership-development needs?” Being accountable in the workplace means taking ownership of our actions, taking responsibility for our mistakes, and delivering on our commitments.

Accountable individuals understand the importance of meeting deadlines, delivering quality work, and communicating desires, needs, and changes clearly with others. Accountability is all about being reliable, trustworthy, and dependable. Therefore, it is also essential that in our accountability, we contribute to creating and implementing effective and fair accountability systems. Why? Because people are four times more likely to be honest (especially about their own mistakes), act fairly toward others, and serve the organization’s purpose – instead of their own interests – when they feel others are doing the same. Remember, when we hold ourselves accountable, we build mutual trust with our colleagues, and establish a culture of responsibility and excellence through leading by example.

4. ALIGNED

Alignment in the workplace means having our behaviors consistently working towards a shared vision, mission, and values. When we are aligned, we demonstrate through our behaviors that we support our organization’s mission, goals, and strategies. Aligned, as an individual, we experience the increased confidence that comes with demonstrating integrity, the integrity of our own actions, words, and behaviors. As a team, we can create a culture of synergy, collaboration, open communication, and innovation, where we all could contribute our best selves toward achieving our shared vision.

Additionally, by cultivating alignment, we focus on internal harmony, aligning our thoughts, words, and actions (head, heart, and gut). The result can be seen in our ability to genuinely demonstrate intellectual humility. This congruence illustrates our increased sense of authenticity and reliability while we extend trust to others, garner mutual respect and trust, and foster strong relationships. In alignment, we bring integrity, congruence, and genuine humility to the workplace, contributing to a positive work environment, also inspiring those around us to do the same. A culture of trust, collaboration, excellence, with an environment fostering the best decision-making, can be the outcome.

5. LEARNING MINDSET

A learning mindset means being curious about new perspectives, seeking feedback, and continuously improving one’s skills and knowledge. Our personal awareness is key to developing a learning mindset, as it is instrumental in fostering growth, development, and success in the workplace. When you learn and understand your own strengths, weaknesses, values, and emotions, you are enabled to make conscious choices, effectively manage your state of being, and build strong working relationships with others (emotional intelligence). It’s about embracing challenges, taking risks, and seeing failures as opportunities to learn and grow – we are always capable of actively improving our abilities.

By adopting a learning mindset, we acknowledge that there is always room for improvement and that “mistakes” are valuable opportunities for growth. This growth/learning mindset, allows us to remain curious, open-minded, and adaptable in the face of change, contributing to our own, as well as our team’s, personal and professional development. With a learning mindset, our curiosity and insightfulness increase, supporting us to contribute to a culture of innovation, creativity, and adaptability where everyone can thrive and reach their full potential.


LEADERSHIP TAKEAWAY: The five elements of REAAL can all be scientifically assessed and developed, so don’t give up if something doesn’t seem to come quickly or easily! Incorporating and improving on these qualities and skills in our work life can help us achieve success, satisfaction, and fulfillment in our careers. By being Resilient, Engaged, Accountable, Aligned, and living with a Learning mindset, we can create a work environment that inspires us and those around us to achieve greatness. Follow along as we dive deeper into REAAL in our upcoming blog posts each month.


Would you like to be a better leader? Contact us about leadership training that can advance your career and business.

Dr. Cheri Rainey is the CEO/Founder of Rainey Leadership Learning, partnering with leaders to support the entire employee life cycle.