Your boss does not determine your success – YOU do.
For years and years, the boss was the one in charge. As an employee, we hoped that we would get recognition for our efforts, that our boss would offer us a promotion or give us an excellent rating on our annual performance review. Our career destiny was in the boss’ hands.
It’s time for a major shift in thinking if you want more at work.
I have been teaching and coaching leadership skills for many, many years. I can tell you that all bosses are not created equal.
A small percentage of the thousands I have worked with are actually great leaders of people. The rest lack the understanding and skill to engage their teams fully. Others are simply not interested in engaging their teams – they just want to get their work done. These are often people who excel at their job and received a promotion without regard for their lack of people leadership skills.
Every leader comes to the workplace with their views on life and work. They have their level of knowledge on what it means to be a good leader, their level of emotional intelligence to respond to others and their motivations for their career.
Unless they are one of those top people leaders, you may not be their priority.
Knowing that your boss may not have the capability to give you what you need to succeed or to help you realize your career goals, how do you act independently of that type of leadership? How do you get engaged in your work and have the empowerment to make a difference and get recognized?
Here are some proven methods to elevate yourself at work:
1. Determine your ideal career path – the type of role/job you would love to have.
2. Get an assessment of your skills and abilities – ensure you are the right fit for your desired role. You can get support from your Human Resources department, your boss or other leaders in the company.
3. Create a growth-and-development plan for yourself – identify the skills, knowledge, training, coaching, and experience you need to acquire for your desired role. Get support from the company to pursue this learning. If they do not provide that, then do it on your own.
4. Be the best you can be in your current role. Find out how success is measured or observed in your position. Keep track of your progress and ensure you communicate it to your boss a few times per year and do not wait for him/her to tell you how you are doing at annual performance review time. Communicate what you have been able to accomplish, the challenges you experienced and how you overcame them and even ask your boss for additional thoughts or ideas. That shows you understand what is important to the company, that you have initiative and are being productive.
5. Manage others’ perception of you as someone driven, company oriented, perhaps a leader or someone who can be influential on projects. Show up at least 15 minutes before your scheduled start time, be ready to start before or no later than your scheduled time. It’s not acceptable to be late and assume it’s OK because you will make up the time at the end of the day. Thinking like that shows a lack of respect for the company and your co-workers – and most importantly – for yourself.
6. Dress for success. Pay attention to the company dress code and observe what others in more senior roles wear to work. It’s always better to dress up than dress down (casual Fridays – wear dressier jeans with a buttoned shirt or sweater versus track pants or ripped jeans). Choose your own style and don’t be afraid to be unique amongst your peers – as long as it’s aligned with company expectations.
7. Conduct exploratory meetings with influential people in the organization. Let them know what your aspirations are and ask what recommendations they have for you. Ask them how they got to their position, what they like about it, what the challenges are and always thank them for their input. You can also ask one of the more senior people if they would be willing to mentor you. Always include your boss and human resources in communicating your career aspirations.
8. Assess the company’s culture. Is it a culture that cares only about numbers and not its people? Is it inclusive and team oriented? Is it growth oriented? What are the company’s values? These are all critical points to determine. Your values and needs should align with the company you work for. They should want for you what you want for yourself. When that happens, the mindset of leaders and employees are aligned, and only those who share the same mindset are hired and promoted.
Your success at work is in your hands. I encourage you to work through these eight steps and see where they take you!
Please share your stories. I’d love to hear them.