Eyeing a promotion for next year? You might want to take a long, hard look at your behavior.
Are you easy to work with, or do your coworkers avoid collaborating with you at all costs? Do you lighten the mood or lurk by the water cooler so you can join in on the latest gossip? Do you make sure your work is done accurately and efficiently, or waste time hemming and hawing about the task at hand?
Wherever you stand, you could probably stand to do better — here’s how to demonstrate your leadership potential in the office.
Be someone your coworkers like talking to — because you listen
How often do you lend an ear?
Make sure you “listen actively” — this means genuinely engaging in conversation by really hearing what the other person has to say before responding with a paraphrased version of their thoughts.
So don’t scroll through your phone, constantly check your watch, or let distractions steal your attention instead.
Don’t just focus on yourself
There’s more to work than just your job — it’s a piece of the puzzle.
Erika Andersen, founding partner of Proteus, keynote speaker and author of Growing Great Employees, Being Strategic, Leading So People Will Follow and more, writes in Forbes about how she’s heard from work leaders that their reports “focus too narrowly on their own needs and constraints.”
She supplies a tip to help employees look at the bigger picture.
“If you want to be seen as a leader, make it your business to understand the larger organization: How does you business work? What are the factors, in your organization, that lead to growth, and what gets in the way? What other functions does your part of the business interact with most, and how do you support each other? Take a step back from your particular job and look at how everything fits together,” Andersen writes.
Don’t get caught up in all the office drama
It’s one thing to feel left out of the office “tribe,” but it’s another to be the keeper of all questionable office secrets.
You’ll most likely want to find a middle ground here: be someone who’s well-known for their work, generally has their finger on the pulse of other teams, and knows how their department fits into the company’s larger picture.
Show that you can delegate tasks effectively
Say you have to head up a big team project — here’s your chance to show that you can break up the work well and check in just the right amount.
Jesse Sostrin, PhD, author and a Director in PwC’s Leadership Coaching Center of Excellence, writes about why it’s important to “engage at the right level” in the Harvard Business Review.
“It’s essential to stay involved, but the degree matters. You should maintain engagement levels sufficient for you to deliver the agreed-upon mix of support and accountability. However, there are risks when the mix is not right: Too involved, and you could consciously or inadvertently micromanage those around you; too hands-off, and you could miss the critical moments where a supportive comment or vital piece of feedback would be essential,” Sostrin writes. “To pick your spot, simply ask people what the right level is based on their style. This not only clarifies the frequency of touchpoints they will find useful but also gives them autonomy in how the delegated work will move forward.”
Have an eye for detail, but don’t nitpick or act like you know everything — your coworkers won’t like feeling stifled. Definitely resist the urge to be a micromanager if you constantly like to be in control.
Have a knack for getting the job done efficiently
Make sure your boss knows that he or she can count on you.
Being a reliable employee isn’t just showing up on time and not causing trouble — it’s about scoring highly in the performance department, plus thinking of ways to constantly improve.
You can be a “people person,” but also make sure that your work speaks volumes for you.
While there’s no guarantee that putting all these tips to good use will automatically help you climb the corporate ladder, making a habit out of them could potentially draw attention to you for all the right reasons.
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