6 Steps For Moving Into a Leadership Position

HR Intervention

Hello, and welcome to another installment of HR Intervention! BizLibrary continues to make the mistake of posting my thoughts, and now you’ve made the additional mistake of reading this! And I’m thrilled about it – seriously, I can’t thank you enough for having nothing better to do.

Now if the title of this article tricked you into reading this far, then I’m guessing you want others to think of you as a leader.

Very few of us want to wallow in nameless obscurity forever, and I have yet to see anyone on Twitter describe themselves as a ‘thought follower.’ Knowing absolutely nothing about you, I still feel safe in assuming that you are ambitious, intelligent, and certain that your talents are being underutilized. And I know how frustrating that can be.

I, too, yearn for the day when the world recognizes my genius and builds statues of me, but so far the closest I’ve gotten is a caricature artist who gave me a free drawing of myself.

I digress. the point is that you want to move forward, and you’re not entirely sure how to make it happen. No problem. Here is exactly what you have to do:

Step 1 – State your intentions clearly to those who can help you

You cannot assume that people know what your career goals are, any more than your husband or wife will simply assume that you love them if you stop saying so.

Make sure that your bosses and any influential colleagues know that you are not looking to do the bare minimum or jump ship to another company. Tell them what your goals are, or else you’ll be waiting longer than necessary for them to figure it out for themselves.

Step 2 – Work hard at whatever job you’re given

This is true even if you don’t like everything about the job, which is almost a guarantee. Sometimes we have to do things we don’t want to do in order to get where we want to be. Athletes don’t always like practicing, but that’s how they get to the game; pianists don’t always like playing scales, but that’s how they become international concert sensations.

If you accept every assignment with at least some enthusiasm and then meet or exceed expectations, you’ll establish yourself as someone worth taking seriously.

Step 3 – Repeat step 2

I know you hate me right now, but I’m OK with that.

Step 4 – Find additional assignments

Am I seriously asking you to work even more? Sort of. I’m asking you to sign up for conferences, ask your colleagues what books to read, organize a Friday night social event – whatever you care to do that indicates you’re thinking beyond your current job role. 

These things can be fun, I promise. I go to conferences all the time, and there’s usually a wicked party at the end. #nsfw!!!!

Step 5 – Wait longer than you think you should

Very few of us advance at the rate that we know we should. For this reason it might help you to stop staring at all those so-called ‘overnight millionaires’ the news likes to talk about. Most of them spent years doing whatever it is that made them successful, but those years tend not to get much attention.

If you ask your colleagues how long it took them to move up the ladder, most of them will say they didn’t get their first promotion for a few years. And trust me, they’re not making you wait because they hate you and want you to suffer – they’re doing it because that’s just how long these things often take.

Step 6 – Repeat step 1

As soon as you’ve proven yourself, you’ll get your opportunity. Unless of course you work for a total jerk, but that’s a different article.

If you want it and you’ve worked for it, advancement will come. Just try to enjoy the process along the way. Or you can drive yourself crazy by constantly feeling like someone is intentionally trying to make you miserable. Whatever floats your boat.

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Jeff Havens is a speaker, author, and professional development expert who tackles leadership, generational, and professional development issues with an exceptional blend of content and entertainment. He is a contributing writer to Fast Company, Entrepreneur, BusinessWeek, The Wall Street Journal; and has been featured on CNBC and Fox Business. For more information, or to bring Jeff to your next meeting, call 309-808-0884, email info@jeffhavens.com, or visit Jeffhavens.com.

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Speaker, Author and Professional Development Expert