1. Ask to be placed on a new project
Experience across different departments and functions is one key skill companies look for when deciding who to promote to the next level. Take the initiative this year and ask for additional responsibilities by working on a new project, preferably in an area you haven’t worked in before. If your boss doesn’t have any ideas, seek out other team leaders or discuss it with the HR department. If you can’t find an internal business project, consider heading up a new recycling effort at your company, sign-up more company volunteers for a local charity, or lead a company-wide fitness challenge. Any effort on your part to take a leadership role and develop new skills will raise your profile among the leaders at your organization.
2. Define your brand at work
Are you the person other people come to for advice? Do your colleagues value your collaboration skills and always want you on their project? Or, are you known for only doing your work and not helping others?
Determine what your current brand at work is, decide what you want it to be, and then focus on what you can do to improve it. Ask for feedback from your colleagues on what you do well and have them suggest one area you could focus on to improve. Commit to working on your brand every day and improving how you are perceived by others at your company.
3. Expand your network
Too often, we have our heads down and focused on our own work, our own team and our own department. Start networking with people in other areas of your organization. Ask someone in the HR department to get a coffee with you or invite someone from the accounting department to join you for lunch. Stop and compliment the marketing department on their latest efforts or talk about the latest sporting event with someone from Sales.
By building those relationships in other departments, you’re expanding your network and raising your profile at work. It also shows you are interested in how others are doing and how it relates to the success of the company. Networking at industry functions, professional organizations and other external associations will also help widen your view and help you gain valuable insight as to what works well for other professionals in a similar function or industry.
4. Seek a mentor or sponsor
We all need someone to help us along our career. Do you have a mentor or sponsor you can seek professional advice and support from? Who can you discuss your career with to gain insight and guidance?
It’s wonderful if you have a supportive boss who looks out for you in the company and wants you to be successful. Some leaders take great pride in seeing their team members promoted. Unfortunately, many bosses simply don’t think of helping their employees get promoted or don’t take the time to do it when they already have numerous responsibilities on their plate. That’s why it’s important for you to seek out your own mentor or sponsor, either in the company or outside of it, who can offer you the type of career advice, encouragement, assistance and direction that everyone needs to be successful.
5. Join a leadership development forum
Some companies may offer leadership training, but many do not. Either way, it’s important for you to take the initiative to develop your leadership skills. It’s your career, your future, your responsibility, so don’t wait around for your organization to select you for training. Find a leadership training program to help you gain an advantage at work.
Clearwater offers a virtual leadership development forum to help you become more influential in your organization and accelerate your career. The next 4-class session starts February 18th. Register for this program and learn how to take your career to the next level, or in the words of a previous participant, “I would highly recommend this program to any leader wanting to lead at a higher level.”