It pays to be a leader—and not just financially. According to a survey by Pew Social Trends, those in leadership positions are more satisfied with all aspects of their lives as compared to the workers on their teams.
As we progress into 2014, seize the opportunity to excel. Make this the year that you will perform at your best, stand out among your colleagues, and start moving up the ladder at a rapid clip.
But how can you actually execute that goal? Below are five keys to transitioning from an employee to a leader:
Keep it positive.
Attitude is everything, and don’t forget the famous old adage that “like attracts like.” If you are positive, kind, approachable, empathetic, and helpful, you will attract similar people, behaviors, and situations. A positive outlook also helps to boost morale and earns the trust and respect of your co-workers. In addition, you’ll enjoy your job more and more each day, which naturally leads to better performance and greater success.
Go beyond the status quo. Consider your job description as a springboard, not a limitation. Breathe new life into stale practices and protocols and pitch new ideas. Be an innovator. Try and come up with unexpected ways to tackle projects. People will take notice of your ingenuity, and they will likely enjoy new challenges that transcend the routine and mundane.
Today’s marketplace is fiercely competitive. To stand out, you must (subtly) trumpet your accomplishments to your supervisor. Play up your strengths and take the lead (whenever possible) as projects arise.
Also, get the lay of the land. Be an open, honest, and transparent communicator—but, at the same time, identify who to ally and partner with. Identify those that you can and should trust, but, more importantly, identify potential troublemakers who could create drama and roadblocks. Although it’s wise to be a bit on guard with these people, you should also make an effort to include them in projects, meetings, and discussions in an attempt to de-fuse any negative energy, problems, or blockades. Remember that people often act defensive out of fear: they could very well feel underused, or anticipating a job loss. Find a way to make them feel safe, and suggest ways for them to participate and add value.
According to a Career Builder survey, 65% of dissatisfied employees feel undervalued. Find ways to help these people discover their passions and run with them….with your help, of course!
Using these strategies, you’ll be recognized as an effective team player, you will create valuable allies, and you’ll likely earn the attention and approval of your supervisor.
Communication is key to successful leadership. Everyone in the workplace should have the chance to voice their suggestions, opinions, and questions.
Try to find new and interesting ways to foster communication—not only within your team, but also across departments. Maintaining an open dialogue and a fluid exchange of ideas will help to eliminate redundancy, miscommunications, delays, and petty squabbles. When communicating, be direct, clear, and concise—and spend just as much time listening as talking.
A key characteristic of leaders is that they DO more than they talk. Work hard and be efficient, timely, and cooperative. Set two batches of goals for yourself: short-term and long-term.
Keep a clean workspace and limit distractions to stay more focused and more productive. Look for ways to streamline and expedite daily tasks. Prioritize your day, organize your responsibilities, and set agendas the night before, so you’re clear on how to proceed the next day.
Also, find new methods for raising your standards for job performance. Always be on the lookout for ways to learn new skills and sharpen existing skills. Go above and beyond your job description to ensure that you are valuable to your employer. Most importantly, pay attention to what methods WORK, and constantly hone those to make your output more impressive.
By following these guidelines in 2014, you’ll be on your way to a strong lead-in to 2015!