So you want the top job, the fancy office, and the executive assistant. You say you are ready to handle more responsibility and that you have climbed to the next wrung on your career ladder. You think everyone looks up to you, thinks you are a super-star or describes you as a mentor even though you are not sure you’ve ever helped anyone along the way. It’s easy to think you are great when YOU think you are great, but do you really know what everyone else thinks of you?
Wanting to take the top job or feeling so confident that you can do anything you set your mind to does not necessarily translate to you being ready to lead the charge. It might look like running a company or department is easy when you have good people you can rely on and trust. But knowing what you are truly capable of and knowing how much others rely and trust you makes will reveal whether you are ready to descend the throne to your next career position.
It’s not enough to think you are ready for the next step you need to learn to “act the part” in order for anyone to take you seriously. Acting the part does not mean you should be hanging out with the support staff, buying your co-workers drinks after work or treating your boss to a night on the town. Acting the part means doing a great job, gaining the trust of your peers and subordinates and looking out for yourself as much as you look out for others. Showing up to work hung over, gossiping about your boss, getting drunk at a company function are not the ways to enlist friends and allies at work.
We all want to be recognized for our accomplishments at work but when they talk about your extra-curricular activities more than they do your work projects, it’s time to act the part of a leader and not a follower. You may think you have what it takes to lead the charge and you may possess the necessary technical skills but if you lack the emotional intelligence to really harness the ability to lead by example then you are missing out on a big life and career lesson.
Taking your job personally instead of professionally will hurt you more than you know if you are trying to prove you have what it takes to lead a team. Being defensive, manipulative or argumentative will not help your cause when you decide it’s time to raise your hand for a promotion or bigger job opportunity. Knowing yourself better than you know anyone else helps you to be aware of your shortcomings and enables you to learn and to lead by example.
It’s okay not to have all of the answers all of the time but when you don’t act the part of a leader and that of a decision maker you might just lead yourself and others down a dead end where no one can help you or your team navigate towards success. Acting the part means making wise choices about the company, boss and co-workers you decide to hang out with. Because like it or not you judged by the company you keep.
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