Jobs and the Future of Work

Seven tips to clinch that promotion at work

A man rides an escalator at Tokyo's business district December 8, 2014. Japan's economy shrank more than initially reported in the third quarter on declines in business investment, data showed on Monday, surprising markets and backing premier Shinzo Abe's recent decision to delay a second sales tax hike. REUTERS/Yuya Shino (JAPAN - Tags: BUSINESS) - RTR4H2EP

Stop focusing on getting the title, and start thinking about making an impact. Image: REUTERS/Yuya Shino

Avery Blank
Contributor, Forbes
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Are you up for a promotion, and it’s a crowded field? In situations where there are many people vying for that one opportunity, the human instinct is to see it as a competition, the survival of the fittest.

It’s not. It is not about competition. Don’t try to act like bosses you have encountered who rule with an iron fist and knock others out of the way for the role. Stop focusing on getting the title, and start thinking about making an impact. Focus on being a leader who makes an impact. Here are seven ways to make a leadership impact and get your promotion:

1. Be physically present at work.

Flexible and remote work is great, but it is difficult to find a substitute as equally impactful as face time in the office. You do not have to be in the office all the time. When you are able, be in the office a few days a week or at least a few hours each day. Use video conferencing when you can.

Know the familiar saying, “Out of sight, out of mind?” Don’t let that be you. Use your presence to make an impact.

2. Listen.

Ask questions, and listen. Ask your colleagues how things are going and where they need help. Gather feedback. When you establish yourself as a listener, you will become known for making inclusive, educated decisions. When your colleagues see that you listen to them, they will recognize they are a valuable piece of the equation. When you make people feel valued, they will want you to be in a position to lead.

3. Have lunch with your colleagues.

Don’t underestimate downtime. With downtime, there is more freedom and opportunity to connect with people. Don’t eat at your desk. Don’t eat by yourself in the cafeteria. Ask teammates to go to lunch with you, or pull up a chair at a table once you have gotten your lunch. This is not the time to put a wedge between you and others. Social opportunities are times to bridge the divide, connect with people on a human level and make an impact.

4. Teach teammates.

Leaders empower others with the tools to accomplish goals. Share your knowledge, whether that is in a workshop setting or teaching a colleague one-on-one at their desk. Be a giver. The knowledge you impart helps the organization succeed and everyone there to succeed.

5. Inspire people.

It is a great feeling when someone tells you, “Thanks. I’m going to try that.” Or “I’m going to look into that after speaking with you.” Great leaders have the ability to inspire. If your teammate is discouraged about the mistake he made, help him to look at the bigger picture. Encourage your colleagues to try something new.

Some people feel that providing emotional support in competitive environments is risky business. Too often, people try to be a “boss” by exerting dominance and using scare tactics. Emotional support in the workplace is critical to the cohesiveness and success of the organization. Leaders have the ability to provide the support necessary to run a successful organization. Leaders light a fire in you, not under you.

6. Give credit to others.

Life and work is not a zero sum game. A successful teammate does not make you look unsuccessful, so don’t be afraid to highlight other’s achievements. Tell your manager that your partner helped the team meet the grant application deadline. Let your manager know that the intern did great background research that helped you to woo a new client. Shining the light on others is part of being a leader. Leaders want others to look good. When others look good, it makes you look good. Everyone wins.

7. Take a smart risk.

Playing it safe is not always the answer. Great companies want their employees to think innovatively. When you are up for a promotion, don’t do business as usual. Take smart risks.
Ask your manager for more manpower to be able to reduce the time it takes to complete a task or to invest in software that will reduce overall labor costs. Companies want their leaders to speak up when they see an opportunity that will benefit the organization.

“Bosses” are temporary. Leaders are forever. With a focus on impact, leaders transcend titles and positions. When you focus on a greater goal, others will recognize you are ready to advance.

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