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Five Tips for Becoming a Leader at Work
By: Brandi Britton

 

Many people dream of calling the shots at work. But what if you don’t have manager in your title? Fortunately, there are steps you can take to play a larger role in your department and eventually earn a leadership position. Here are five tips for positioning yourself as a leader, even if you don’t occupy the corner office just yet:

Step outside your job description.

One of the easiest ways to distinguish yourself within your firm is to take on responsibilities that fall outside of your job description. By tackling new and challenging assignments, you can build your skill set and gain a better understanding of how the firm operates. Start with small tasks that you know you can successfully complete so you can build confidence and gauge how far away from your core duties you can comfortably stray. As you prove yourself, ask to lead larger projects. You’ll gradually build your manager’s trust in your abilities and have greater leverage when requesting responsibilities that are particularly appealing to you.

Be an expert.


Do coworkers come to you for an opinion on important assignments or pressing issues? Do they seek your feedback when brainstorming new ideas? In short, are you seen as the go-to-person in your department? If not, consider developing expertise in an area of concern for your group. Doing so will position you as an office authority. For example, if you master a software program that is used frequently in your office, you’ll be a natural source of information when other employees have questions about it. Offer to teach them what you know so they can work more effectively, too.

Broaden your view.


Every CEO needs to take a big-picture approach to the business, and you need to have the same mind-set when it comes to your job. Determine how your role fits into the larger whole so you are better able to make bottom-line contributions to the company. If you’re unsure, ask your boss for clarification. Knowing that a monthly report you generate is shared among several departments, for example, may prompt you to add explanatory charts or a quick summary so the information is easier to access and use.

Serve as a mentor.

Another way to build your leadership skills is to become an advisor to a new or junior employee at your firm. There are likely many individuals who can benefit from your experience and expertise. By serving as a mentor, you’ll enhance leadership abilities such as interpersonal communication and collaboration. You’ll also gain satisfaction in knowing you’ve helped someone advance his or her career.

Remember, the relationship does not have to be formal to be effective, so don’t be discouraged if your firm does not have a mentorship program in place. You also could seek opportunities through local business associations. Often these groups will pair people just starting their careers with experienced professionals who can provide guidance on getting ahead.

Listen.


The best leaders realize they don’t have all the answers and are willing to listen to others because they know colleagues can provide valuable insight. When interacting with your coworkers, be alert for useful input, good advice and creative solutions. Active listening when meeting with executives and management will allow you to conduct a more thorough analysis of relevant issues and develop solutions for the challenges you face.

Good leadership skills aren’t developed by accident or overnight. By stretching your abilities and taking an active role at work, you can become an example to your colleagues and make yourself more valuable to current and future employers.

Brandi Britton is a District President for Robert Half International. The company has more than 350 staffing locations worldwide, including nine offices in Los Angeles County. For more information visit: http://www.roberthalf.com/.
 








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