Chances are, if you are reading this article, you do not want to be an employee for the rest of your career; you want to be an employer. Leadership in the workplace often grants a higher salary, but more importantly will give you direction and autonomy on your own career path. A skill few are born with, leadership must often be learned. Follow these five simple to begin working toward a leadership role now, from your current position in the office.
1. Exceed Expectations
To demonstrate leadership abilities, you must first and foremost excel at your current job. Respect deadlines and follow the rules. Go above and beyond the responsibilities your position requires to show how much you are capable of. Come to work on time or early and do not be the first to leave at the end of the day. Like the saying goes, dress for the job you want – not the job you have. Work at the level of the job you want and soon you will have it.
2. Learn from Every Opportunity
Use the lighter workload in your current position to learn as much as you can. Volunteer to help out in other departments, ask to join committees, or step up to take on extra projects. Expose yourself to as many facets of the workplace as you can. In order to lead an office, you will need to understand how every department functions. Not only will these learning experiences serve you in the future, they will demonstrate your drive to succeed.
3. Look for Opportunities
In the workplace, opportunity can be found everywhere, if you open your eyes to it. Often finding opportunity in an office means seeing something that is not there. Look for gaps in the current business strategy and consider your own strengths and areas of expertise. What can you offer the company? Do have a marketing background or the ability to create stellar reports and metrics? Offer up your talents to fill those empty spaces at your office.
4. Ask Questions and Listen to Criticism
Handle your work as independently as you can, but do not be afraid to ask questions when you need assistance. Part of the journey to becoming an office leader is learning and learning to seek help when you need it. Not being afraid to ask questions demonstrates both confidence and a willingness to learn. Also, if you receive compliments on a project, be sure to give credit to anyone who helped.
The ability to listen openly to criticism is an invaluable leadership quality. If your work is criticized, do not become defensive. Although criticism can be tough to take, it is only constructive advice and should not be taken personally. Listen and consider the criticism you receive. Use the comments to your advantage and do better next time.
Networking involves making connections both inside and outside the office. Take the time to get to know your co-workers. By relating with them on a personal level, you will gain their respect. Also make an effort to forge relationships with your superiors. While this can require more effort on your part, you will likely find a mentor from whom you can learn.
Getting to know your office will benefit you greatly, but a lot can be gained from connections outside your floor or building. Attend conferences and seminars in your field and introduce yourself to as many people as you can. Making these connections now will serve you in the future.