Many of us want to climb the corporate ladder, but there’s no one guide that can guarantee you’ll do so. However, there are many ways to improve your skill set, gain recognition, and perhaps, even line yourself up that next big promotion. Here are a few tips from top CEOs on how to advance in your career.
Find a Mentor
Finding a mentor to help guide you is one of the best ways to improve yourself for those looking move up professionally. Having someone who can share his or her experiences and whose career can serve as an example to follow can make all the difference in your own career path.
While many think admiration from afar is enough, it is best to engage with your prospective mentor on a more personal level. Arranging a meeting to communicate your interest in learning from them is the best way to start. That way, you can ask specific questions face-to-face and your mentor can happily share the knowledge he or she has accumulated over the years.
Providing value to your mentor is also critical and can be one of the ways you can secure meetings in the first place. Coming to them with new and cutting-edge information on your field to open a discussion can help show that you can be a go-to person for new information. Plus, it helps you stay on top of upcoming trends.
The Higher the Risk, the Bigger the Reward
H&R Block CEO Bill Cobb says, “The best advice I ever received is that ‘risk is your friend.’ Most people think of risk as something to avoid, but we should be thinking of it as an opportunity.” This is something a lot of aspiring professionals tend to forget. If you don’t put yourself out there and take risks, you’ll never know the rewards of professional success. But this doesn’t mean you should take risks without preparation. In order to ensure that your risks will work out, make sure to prepare, work hard, and do your research. A calculated risk is always the best kind, even if there’s no guarantee it will pay off in the end.
The most important lesson here is that if you don’t try to go for that new position, or work toward that new deal with an important client, you’ll never reap the benefits that risk has to offer.
Confidence is Key
Remaining confident at all times is often easier said than done, especially when starting out as a small fish in the expansive ocean of your profession. However, remaining self-assured is one of the most important factors for success. Hayley Barn, co-founder and co-CEO of Birchbox, says she never compares herself to others, and she advises others to never compare their weakness to someone else’s strengths. That being said, no one will ever think much of you unless you walk the walk. One way to help maintain that confidence is to create a “win” list. Every time you accomplish a goal, add it to a list. Whenever you feel down, read that list to remind yourself of your successes, and it could provide the psychological boost you need to carry on.
While you should never bite off more than you can chew in the corporate world, taking on tough tasks is a great way to grow. Jeffrey Immelt, CEO of General Electric, says to “embrace tough assignments. Conventional wisdom suggests that it’s easier to take the path of least resistance by signing up for an easy job, doing it well, and moving on to something bigger. The problem with that theory is that nobody notices when you do an easy job well.” On the other hand, your bosses will notice when you execute on a challenging assignment. Executing day-to-day work well is a priority, but if given the opportunity to take on something more difficult, don’t pass it up.
Innovation is often a great way to prove that you are ready for an executive-level promotion. Finding ways to help your company incorporate the latest and greatest technology shows your investment in the business. Showing your knowledge of new developments in tech demonstrates that you are up-to-date on the newest trends. Technology has transformed the workplace, and more employees are working remotely than ever before. With more efforts being focused on communication between employees in different locations, cloud computing software like CounterPath’s VoIP and softphone systems are becoming essential. Making an effort to implement innovative tech like this to solve a problem presented by the modern workplace, for example, can make you stand out from your coworkers.
The most important lesson of all when making strides towards success a future leadership role is to “just make sure you’re ready, because when you get there, there’s no time out,” says Oracle CEO Mark Hurd in a recent Forbes interview. He goes on to say that “there’s no time for training wheels or learning on the job.” Preparing ahead of time for this advancement is possible. Heed your mentor’s advice, stay confident, and stay up-to-date with the newest innovations to make sure you are ready for the responsibility of a career advancement. Follow these tips and soon enough your business card may say CEO, CFO, or COO!
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