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Getting Ahead by Solving Problems

Few people set out to be a leader.  Leadership often develops out of passion, deep interest or even a deep commitment to something.  But some people do decide, “I want to be a leader in my field: I like it and want to excel and contribute,” and set about achieving that goal.   If that’s the case, there are many ways to demonstrate your potential and put yourself on track to achieve the goal you have in mind.

  • Not unexpectedly, be the best you can be with the responsibilities you already have. Let me say that again: if you can’t take care of today’s business, you won’t be seen as someone who can take on tomorrow’s work.  If the work is too challenging, it may not be the right field for you.
  • Seek out and take on additional responsibilities. Be willing to volunteer for extra work when it’s sought. Why would I promote someone who just does the job she was hired for, never more?
  • Lean more toward yes than no when the boss needs help. Helping your boss look good, will help you look good.  (Unless she or he is a total ogre!)  If this prescription gets under your skin, it’s time to lower your expectations or move.
  • Find people you admire. Watch them.  What do they do that impresses you and other people. A role model isn’t perfect but you can see what they do that works and what doesn’t.  Talk to them; ask for their advice.
  • Don’t advertise your ambitions. No one wants to be around someone who’s always saying what she wants but does little to achieve it.  Besides, others might be threatened by your aspirations. When appropriate, talk to your supervisor about how you might do better or how you might make other contributions to the work.

Finally, focus on solving problems, not on getting promoted. Let’s be real:  do you really want to be in this field?