There’s a sign on my office wall which sums up a key piece of advice I would give to any aspiring professional: “Every Day in Every Way.” In the context of your career, here are the ways you can enhance your progress every day:
Make yourself indispensable: Don’t limit your job role to your job title; get involved wherever needed. You will be a more valuable employee if you show your superiors that you are willing to help out and be a team player. This also means coming to work with a positive attitude and ready to do work. It sounds obvious, but by being prepared to focus and doing your best every day, you become more effective in your role.
Focus on service and improvement – constantly: No matter where you work or what your position is, you always have a customer. A CEO’s customer is the board; an executive assistant’s customer is the executive. Every action should be focused on generating high customer satisfaction. The people with leadership potential are those who are internally-driven, always thinking about making improvements and better servicing their customer.
Be emotionally attuned: As you advance and take on leadership roles, the importance of being a team player pivots on your ability to build a strong, supportive team. Work to understand the team dynamics, each person’s strengths and weaknesses, and develop your team relationships. Sometimes, a leader has to convey a difficult message or motivate a team during tough times. To do this successfully, focus on the way the message is delivered (the emotional value), not just the content.
Clarify the difference between ideas and recommendations: There is a time for brainstorming and a time for making recommendations. Brainstorming is a free process where anything goes and conversely, when making a recommendation, you need to back it up with data and information to offer an evidencebased solution. Be clear about both, and this will build trust in your skills and ability, helping develop your role as a go-to team member.
Have the courage to make decisions: Decision-making is a skill you need to develop early on, and becomes more important as you take on more responsibility. It is important to be collaborative, but also to know when to make independent decisions. Also, you cannot expect to have perfect information before making every decision. The key is to know when you have enough information to proceed, rather than being paralyzed by the process. Focusing on these aspects in every part of your job, every day, will help you build a great career for yourself.