Where do I start? A great question! I strongly believe that there are four key skills that will help you step up into a leadership role faster than would otherwise be the case.
The first of these is the power of Networking. It is simply not enough to be good. People must know you are good.
I have provided a lot of information on this site on how to network effectively, where you can go to grow your network and even some questions you can ask in a networking environment to keep the conversation going! Be sure to check out this page on Networking.
The second skill is Public Speaking. It doesn't have to be as a keynote address, but being memorable in a positive way every time you make a presentation adds a lot to your credibility. Don't believe me? What good are good ideas if you can't convey them to others?
Unfortunately, public speaking is terrifying for many if not most people...to the point where they won't even try! Like many things however, public speaking is a skill and one that only gets better with practice.
To help you get started, I have created some quick tips on how to approach public speaking in a way that will hopefully push you beyond the fear and enable you to start you development in this critical area. You can check it this information here: Public Speaking
The third skill set is Negotiation. If you think about all of the transactions of your daily life, whether it is being compensated for the work you do, hiring someone to do some work for you or buying goods and services - negotiation gives you the opportunity to create win-win scenarios saving time, money and effort for both parties. It is that critical.
Many people see Negotiation as a conflict or confrontation. Nothing could be further from the truth!
I like to see Negotiation as the process through which two people or parties work really hard to find the common ground between them so that they can agree on how to move forward. Who doesn't enjoy finding common ground? Even in a high stakes financial negotiation, you should never be agreeing to an outcome unless you are satisfied with it. Otherwise, the common ground is missing your contribution and is therefore anything but common!
Please check out some tips on growing your Negotiation skills here: Negotiation
Finally, the fourth skill I suggest to people is to become good at selling. This isn't just about selling stuff. It is about selling ideas, concepts, projects and becoming ever more valuable to both your organization and your clients.
Learning about the sales process and how to connect solutions to needs and desires is hugely important. Selling is such a huge topic in and of itself that I haven't yet written about it, so I don't have a link on this site yet.
If you are already pretty accomplished in these areas - then there are some other things you can do to also accelerate your career success.
First of all, learn to Stand Out. We all want to believe in a meritocracy, where people who do good work get recognised but the truth is, many leaders are blind to strong, silent performers. Being able to stand out from the rest of the crowd, is critical in terms of being recognised and thought about when the next big opportunity comes around.
It is also important for you to Take The Initiative for the same reason. Even though it may seem like extra work, it will get you attention and cause you to be noticed in a way that otherwise would not be the case.
You may also have heard that Golfing with the Boss is a great way to get ahead in your career. This can definitely work if it is managed correctly but it can be disastrous if it isn't.
Another interesting space to look into is that of entrepreneurialism. Sometimes if you have a strong value of independence, autonomy and are action oriented, becoming an entrepreneur can create an extraordinarily satisfying life and lifestyle.
I have a number of thoughts on that particular topic based on my own experience and that of many clients. You can check out a few of the self tests here: Entrepreneurship and three things to watch out for: Three Things
Finally, one of the most overlooked elements of any career management process is the need to have business acumen. A lot of people are not clear on what business acumen actually means so I have prepared a primer for you here.
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