When you're ready to leap into leadership, it's important to know how to get there. While it could take years to climb the ladder up into senior management, tapping into your personal strengths is something you can start doing right now.
Positioning yourself as a leader has the potential to make your work more meaningful and advance your career. You can gain influence based on your title, or on knowledge and skills you already possess. Learn how to use these assets to build up your clout in the workplace. Here's how...
1- Read daily.
Pick up books about your industry or any topic that interests you. The more you read, the better prepared you’ll be to contribute to any discussion.
Subscribe to professional organization newsletters. They offer industry-specific information updating you on what's up and coming and who to watch. You’ll sound like a leader whether you’re engaging in small talk or referencing a new concept or initiative within your field.
2- Sign up for training.
Take advantage of programs your employer offers. If you've maxed out on participating in internal programs, consider attending a conference or participating in continuing education.
Sign up for a language class or become proficient with a new software package. Be sure to choose the training that will benefit you in your current or upcoming position.
3- Browse during breaks.
Those brief intervals you spend on hold or pausing between meetings can be put to good use. Break out your phone and search for industry news.
Keep your eyes on the competition. You’ll stand out if you’re the first one to notice a major lawsuit or merger.
4- Take a course.
Many adults juggle full-time jobs while going back to school. Schedule an appointment at your local university to see what you need to complete your degree.
Be sure to weigh the pros and cons of completing a long-term degree versus a short-term certification program. Will you use the skills you'll learn 2, 4, 6 years after you've attained the education?
5- Consult an expert.
Contact others in your network who would be willing to share their wisdom. Interview a colleague who has published a new book and promote her work on your personal blog. You’ll both benefit from increased information and publicity.
6- Shadow a star employee.
If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, a high performer may be pleased to show you the ropes. Let them know that you admire their style.
Offer to assist them with specific tasks that will be valuable to you moving forward. Is there software you need to better understand? Are there reports you'll need to analyze?
7- Take responsibility.
Prove that you can be trusted to live up to your obligations. Develop a reputation for completing assignments and meeting deadlines.
If you're still working towards meeting deadlines, track your productivity so you're able to confidently estimate your expected time of completion, and be sure to inquire about the priority level of the work assigned.
8- Document your accomplishments.
Make it a habit to write down your ideas and achievements. Looking over your victories will boost your confidence.
Review constructive criticism and write down what you'll do to improve. Even the missteps can set you up to be better next time.
9- Express enthusiasm.
Attitude is an important part of leadership. Speak kindly to your coworkers and care about their welfare.
Understand how your role impacts the team and aim to positively affect them. You never know when you'll need to work closely with someone so invest in cordial relationships early on.
10- Take initiative.
Be willing to go the extra mile. Volunteer for tasks that fall outside of your job description even if they’re less than glamorous.
Pitch in when your team members need help and specifically pursue tasks that you truly enjoy doing. This creates a more enjoyable workday.
11- Share feedback.
Thank people for commenting on your performance and recommending steps you can take to further your professional growth. Follow up with the results of implementing changes and their positive results.
Offer constructive and tactful criticism that enables others to do the same. Be willing to discuss suggestions for implementation.
12- Give generously.
Above all, let your colleagues know that they can count on you when they need your time and expertise. Strive to be a valuable team member.
Keep an eye out for anyone who’s struggling and offer genuine support. Doing so can create mutually beneficial relationships.
Transform yourself into the kind of leader other employees will want to follow. Your knowledge and skills are valuable resources that can help you to develop your talents and inspire others.
Don't feel that you have to figure this out alone. I'm happy to talk with you about your career trajectory and plot a course!
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