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The Champion Forum Podcast

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TCF018: Aspiring to Lead

Thank you for listening to The Champion Forum Podcast with Jeff Hancher. Are you currently hoping for a promotion? Most people are trying to earn their next promotion by working hard and succeed in their current role. However, you cannot neglect the importance of also demonstrating your leadership potential. In this episode, Jeff lays out five ways that you can stand out as a leader before you get promoted. You will learn where to invest your energy and how you can ensure that you are the first person considered for promotion when the opportunity arises.

Be a team player

  • Be willing to help your team deal with conflict and work together instead of acting like a lone wolf.

  • Working with others will give you an opportunity to show your leadership ability and be the voice of reason when your team is going through a challenge or a change.

  • Organizations are looking for leaders who are team-oriented and can collaborate and be inclusive.

Be an expert and continue to learn and master new skills

  • Being a productive, successful employee will get you a seat at the interview table but it will not guarantee you the job.

  • Don’t be satisfied with your current skill level. Stay on top of changes in your career field.

  • There is a balance between performing well in the job you are in and preparing for the job that you want.

  • Do not get overwhelmed by accepting additional assignments outside of your regular responsibilities. Peak performers make a mistake when they allow themselves to be distracted by special requests from their supervisor to the point where they can no longer do the job they were hired to do well.

  • You will need to be at a place where you can do your day job very well with 80% of your time and use the remaining 20% for special assignments.

  • Look at special assignments as part of the interview to the next step. Leadership will be watching how you navigate the assignment and juggle your time with your current role.

  • If you have not been given any special projects, be observant, identify a need and propose a solution that you are prepared to implement to your boss.

  • Senior managers will notice people who demonstrate a willingness and aptitude to perform at a higher level, and who are eager to learn, and contribute to the success of the team.

Be open to feedback and criticism, and use it to grow

  • Ask your supervisor for corrective feedback.

  • Be aware that if you are a strong employee, your manager may not feel like they need to give you a lot of feedback. So, you will need to be intentional and persistently ask for feedback.

  • Ask them the question, “what can I be doing better”? or “What is my biggest area of opportunity to improve”?

  • It is difficult to ask for this kind of direct feedback, but it demonstrates not only are you comfortable with your abilities but also that you take your career growth seriously and are willing to learn from any short-coming that you may have.

  • If you are criticized or you make a mistake, own it. Accept the feedback, even if it is inaccurate. Resist the temptation to get defensive.

  • Ask your manager to describe what the right approach would have been, so you have a clear expectation of what they would have done.

Learn to communicate well

  • Future leaders learn to speak and write clearly, truthfully, and effectively.

  • Public speaking is a skill that many leaders do not actively seek to develop.

  • How you deliver a message is just as important as the content you deliver.

  • Be willing to invest in developing your speaking skills because they will help you stand out and compel others to listen to you. I highly recommend investing in ToastMasters and/or Dale Carnegie Training.

Lead from where you are.

  • Do not wait until you have a title to act like a leader.

  • Leading when you are not in charge is going to get you noticed.

  • You can put yourself in a place where you can influence others by improving communications and taking on difficult tasks.

  • When it is time for managers to move on to other opportunities, they will likely think of you as the right one to move into their position.

  • Remember that you may end up leading the team you currently are on, so it is critical that you operate with integrity in the position you currently hold.

Q: How well do you feel that you balance performing your work responsibilities well and taking on extra work assignments? What percentage of your day goes into each of these? How has your boss responded to your job performance recently? If you have not yet received the opportunity to increase your value to the company, what do you think is holding your boss back? What changes do you need to make to set yourself up for the opportunity to stand out?

Q: What challenges do you feel come with leading when you are not in charge? How can you overcome these challenges or change your perspective so that you feel comfortable leading in your current position?

Q: Describe a time when you gave someone else feedback. How did they respond? How did their response influence your opinion of them? Based on that experience, how would you rate your own ability to receive criticism? What, if anything, do you need to change?

Application Activities

  1. Identify one skill that would help you perform better in your current role and one skill that would help you in the position you want to hold. Find a way to invest money into those skills. When you invest your money into something, studies find that you take it more seriously. Your investment could be as simple as buying a book or as thorough as purchasing an online course or joining a mastermind or group coaching program. Commit to developing those skills for 3-6 months and then reevaluate and select new skills if you feel ready to move on.

  2. Consider the kinds of questions you may get in an interview for the job you want. For example, you may be asked how you navigated a conflict with a fellow employee or customer, or how you manage your time. Consider these questions in the context of the skills Jeff mentions in this episode. Do you feel like your experience leading from your current position has given you the ability to formulate concrete examples that you can use as answers to these questions? If so, write them down so that you can review them when you get the opportunity to interview for a leadership position. If not, consider how you can practically lead from where you are so that you will have an answer for those questions in the future.

  3. If you have not already, find a mentor who can give you feedback on your performance and skills. The more accustom you are to receiving feedback, the easier it will be to accept feedback from a supervisor or boss. Schedule time to get critical feedback from that mentor, or, if possible, your current boss.

Connect with Jeff

Facebook: The Champion Forum Podcast

Instagram: @thechampionforum

Email: jeffhancher@thechampionforum.com

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