How to Become the Boss: 7 Lessons from Professionals in the Know
By Kathleen O’Malley
When you’re starting out in your career, you want to do things that will help you advance yourself, right? But what do you do? I know when I was fresh out of college and in the midst of my first few jobs, I wasn’t sure what to do aside from to show up on time, to do the work that needs to get done, and to not leave before my boss. Turns out, there’s way more to it than that. I reached out to my network (and my network’s network) and asked for their best tips on moving up. In this slideshow, you’ll find advice from five people who used creativity, tenacity, and more to become THE BOSS. The one thing they all have in common: Good old fashioned elbow grease.
1. Manage your career like a business
Through a series of five jobs over ten years, I watched my husband carefully analyze professional opportunities before he’d accept an offer. As a non-profit professional, he assessed the organization’s strategic plan, budget, and philanthropic as well and volunteer support. Change is hard; changing jobs is scary. Do it carefully and thoughtfully, and you will have a series of successes to add to your resume. Ultimately, you might end up in your dream job, just like my husband.
2. Be a leader whether you are the boss or not
Leadership skills are important in any team and every team member needs to have them. A leader identifies strategic priorities which helps the whole team succeed. And, when there is a lot of work to be done, chip in – it doesn’t matter if it’s not your job description. Your teammates will appreciate your efforts, and your bosses will recognize your leadership.
3. Be in the right place at the right time
I got my job when I ran into the founder of Boulevard Brewing Company at our local Costco. With a group of investors, he was getting ready to launch a new glass recycling company. I knew John from a past project, and he knew that I had some unique experiences to bring to the table. Four months later, I was hired as the Executive Director of Ripple Glass. Some things are meant to be.
4. Don’t Expect a Promotion
This is a heavy debate topic lately as millenials invade the workplace. The general consensus is that they assume they’re going to move up to management pretty quickly and get upset when they realize that’s not the case. You can step up to the plate and improve company problems, but don’t do it based on the assumption that you will get promoted – it really peeves the higher ups if that’s your motive. Instead, look at it from a mentality of serving. Managers will be looking at how you improve the company as a whole and can help out, not how you outshine everyone else.
5. Find and Fix Problems
Are you noticing something strange on reports? Did you figure out a way to improve a company process, save some money, or make more of it? Don’t keep it to yourself! Tell your manager!
6. Step Up to The Plate
Encounter a problem at the office? Seems like there is going to be a meltdown? Co-worker out sick? Boss stuck at a doctor’s appointment while a client is waiting? Step up to the plate and take on the extra responsibility. Become the hero! When I started working at my former job, one of the recruiters decided to quit and not tell anyone. I was the receptionist who ended up doing job interviews that day. I got a promotion and a raise.
7. Always perform at a high level
You become the boss by performing your job at an extremely high level on a consistent basis. Show up for work early. Get your projects and responsibilities completed with quality in mind and before any deadlines. Offer to take on new tasks. Work well with coworkers. Never complain. Pay attention during performance reviews and eagerly take on any feedback that is meant to make you become a better employee. Never get down if you are passed over for a promotion – it will eventually come. There are plenty of ways to do it, but by performing at a high level each and every day, you will ultimately move up in the company ranks.
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