Setting yourself apart at work is no easy task. Not only are young people entering the workforce more educated than ever, as you climb the ladder, the competition gets stiffer. So what differentiates phenomenal employees from the rest of the pack?
I have been fortunate to work for some of the world’s largest and most reputable companies, exposing me to the most inspiring leaders. It has amazed me how quickly some people progress to the top and I have paid particular attention to the way in which they have really set themselves apart from everyone else.
Here are five ways you can set yourself apart and accelerate your career.
1. Consider yourself a steward of the organization
Why should senior leaders or shareholders hand the company over to your leadership if you don’t treat it like it’s your own? Work hard and with the same passion as you would if it was your company. Treat business decisions the same way. Ask yourself: “What decision would I make if I was faced with this exact situation in my own company?”
2. Build your personal brand
What do you want to be known for? You should be able to answer this question without much thought and let this be your guiding light as you progress through your career. Every decision, interaction and behaviour should be aligned with and help to reinforce your personal brand. While there are some traits that must be part of your personal brand (courage, risk, integrity, etc.), you should differentiate yourself in some way in an effort to leave behind a legacy that lives beyond your tenure.
3. Align with key influencers
No one climbs higher up the ladder without the help of others along the way. Identify, learn from and align with key influencers within the organization. Having them in your corner elevates your personal brand similar to word of mouth advertising. Influencers usually have great relationships at the top and impact all key hiring decisions. Carefully select one early in your tenure, and establish a mentoring relationship with them. Then learn as much as you can about the business, the culture and other influencers that you may want to leverage.
4. Become a knowledge broker
Phenomenal leaders are knowledge brokers. They identify a need for knowledge and information related to their field and become the resident expert. Spend some time figuring out what information people in your organization are regularly seeking. It’s usually an aspect of market or industry knowledge. Then take the initiative to learn as much as you can and maintain that knowledge. Go to seminars or webinars related to the topic and stay on top of the news and trends ahead of anyone else in the organization. They disseminate this information to all stakeholders identifying how it may impact the business. Soon you will be indispensable to any project or business decision, being invited to the table for many important discussions.
5. Build relationships throughout the organization
Phenomenal leaders don’t just develop relationships at the top. They build relationships at every level and in every function of the organization. Get out there and get to know people. Treat everyone with respect, help to mentor, recognize and elevate others and seek the opinion and wisdom of everyone you come across. You never know when a peer will be your biggest ally.
What will your legacy be?