I have a deep sense of gratitude to those who have aided in my career opportunities through their
leadership and mentorship. As I look back at the promotions I have personally achieved, and those under
my leadership, they all have something in common. None were actively sought or asked for, but instead
evolved into being rewarded. What do I mean by that?
Those who have shaped my leadership displayed a style to always challenge me to think beyond the outlook from my desk, but from the position of the most important person in our company — the client.
When you free yourself from your own self imposed confines, you have greater clarity on how you, your team and company may best serve your clients. Clients — those who put their faith in you and are funding the growth of your business.
You need an environment where you can be courageous and bold, to take risks and be able to fail to
figure out where to stretch yourself. If that does not describe the environment in which you find
yourself, then chances are you are not in the right place to truly grow. More on that later.
Being a client-centric thinker (one of the highest exponents of this attitude is Jeff Bezos — you know the chap that runs that bookstore on the internet) requires you to think and act outside your job description — the one thing that holds most back. We all have two voices in our head, one that pops up when you see an opportunity to do something better, but then the other voice that drowns out the first with “this is not your role to say, someone else will think of it”.
Presenting your viewpoint, through a data-led, opinion-free, reasoned argument makes it hard for anyone to take offence at it. Not all your ideas will be right and you may not have all the information that gives you a fully formed view. That said, not to try is doing you, your company and ultimately the client a disservice.
We all have our unique talent, skills, and abilities. Be self aware enough to know you do not know everything, so find a mentor or trusted adviser, who will be completely and brutally honest with you about your talent, skills, abilities, and where you fall short.
Be willing to take a risk and fail, this is how to figure out where to stretch yourself. It is okay to stumble, it is okay to need rest, and it is even okay to fall down. Measurement of success should be defined in choosing to get back up.
A good leader knows they are not the leader because they believe they are the smartest in the room, or know all the answers. A great leader, relies on their team to come together, think as a team, and rely on them to think beyond their task list to solve the problems that have not yet been thought of.
Those leaders see the success of the team, as a huge badge of honor, take pride in their success knowing
that the thinking and experience of the collective is so much more than the individual. They demand
their team to step outside their job description and never want to hear “that is not my job” from
Incidentally, let me give you a small piece of advice — as soon as you see any task beneath you, you have just ruled yourself out of the race and not in the right mindset to truly maximize your career potential.
A leader wants dependable people, who understand the mission of their company and will not have to be asked to do something. Ever noticed how the great leaders never have to manage the tasks lists of their subordinates? Ask yourself if your immediate leader manages your task list? Or, does he or she give you direction as to what is needed and expect you to figure out the details yourself?
Presenting your viewpoint, through a data-led, opinion-free, reasoned argument makes it hard for anyone to take offence at it.
One of the biggest responsibilities a leader can do is to promote someone. It is a big risk to promote
someone to a position where he or she has demonstrated no previous interest or experience. At that
is a pure gamble, roll of the dice, or spin of the wheel. The easiest promotion is the one where the
has already shown an aptitude for the role, most likely already doing it in some capacity, and more
importantly does not see it as a huge surprise.
See where I am going there? Make it easy for your manager to promote you. Remove the risk.
I hire talented and driven individuals, those who are curious learners, coach others, and take on
responsibility to expand their own skills, ability, and value because it matters. No one realizes
complete success without the support of others. I have tremendous respect for those (both leaders and
would-be-leaders) who are willing to admit to such a concept.
There have been many who have shaped my leadership style, many who have been an inspiration for pushing myself to have the courage to do the hard and rewarding. I have been fortunate to have mentors and leaders, both men and women, who did not hesitate to offer me a seat at the table. It takes being deliberate, showing up, and being a part of the conversation to learn what path you may wish to take.
As noted earlier, if you find yourself in a situation where you do not have respect for your leader, or desire to help the team, then you need to remove yourself from that position. Start your search today; do not waste another minute. This time though, you will be fully aware of the type of leader you are looking to learn from, grow with, and to evolve into.
History is made by those that show up. Get involved, see over your desk and think about the collective good of your team, your company and ultimately your customer.
The only person stopping you from that promotion, is you.
Come and join the conversation with technologists, engineers, and business leaders on October 18th at rvatechwomen.com — those who are true leaders — Mary Kopczynski, Paige Wilson, and Karen Townsend — lessons learned, successes, sources of inspiration & moments when the cape did not fit perfectly.