Business leaders are always looking for rock star employees who have the skills and potential to grow in their roles and—eventually—take charge. With remote work continuing into 2021, workers will need to be more self-sufficient and proactive about managing their careers.
My mantra is that everyone should be the “CEO” of their own role and manage their area as if they own that part of the business.
Here are five tips to help you be the CEO of your own role, no matter how big or small that role is.
No one tells a CEO what to do every day. If want to grow your business (or your role), you need to take initiative. What can you do that is above and beyond what your boss has asked you to do? If you think something could be done in a better way, make a suggestion for how to improve it. If you see something that needs to be done, start doing it. Volunteer to take on projects that stretch you in new directions. These are not only great ways to learn, but you will also demonstrate that you are ambitious and willing to take on more.
Be a team player
In my first sales job, I was a bulldozer. If someone didn’t do something the way I wanted it done, I just did it myself. But there was a limit to what I could get done on my own and I started to burn out. If you want to scale your work and have a bigger impact, you have to learn to work with a team. Collaborate with your teammates and trust other people to help you get the job done. Especially early on in your career when you may not have direct reports, you need to learn to lead through influence. Build relationships with the people you work with to establish trust. This is harder when we are all working from home, but a 15 minute “virtual” coffee break to chat about something non-work related can help build that rapport.
Ask for help
A good leader has confidence but is also humble enough to know that they don’t have all the answers. Tapping into the expertise of others around you will help you learn and grow. Build a strong network of people you can reach out to in areas where you have less expertise. Make learning a priority so you have a good set of resources to reference. Show your boss that you have thought through some potential solutions before going to them with a problem, but don’t spend too long spinning your wheels before reaching out for help. It’s okay not to know all of the answers, even when you are the CEO.
Your ears are your best tool
I learned an important leadership skill from my father who taught me to “keep my eyes and ears open and my mouth shut until I had enough information to make an informed decision.” A good leader has enough emotional intelligence to know when to speak and when to listen. If you are working in sales, you have to listen to what your customer needs before you can try to sell it to them. If you make decisions before you have enough information, you might make mistakes that could have been avoided. You don’t need to be the first person to speak at every meeting. Ask questions and listen before you weigh in. This is a great way to learn and it will help you earn the respect and trust of your team.
Be willing to take risks
No one gets anywhere in life by staying small. You have to take risks and be willing to fail if you want to grow and make an impact in your job. However, make sure you do your homework and have data to back you up before you try out a new idea. It’s good to take risks, but they should be smart well-informed risks. Part of being the CEO of your role is being willing to take responsibility if your ideas don’t work out. No matter how well prepared you are and how well you execute, you still might fail. And that’s okay. We often learn more from our failures than our successes. Take the time to learn from your failures but don’t shy away from risks.
Do not be afraid to take charge in the workplace as you are growing in your career. If you want to develop leadership skills, you have to be willing to grab the reins. You don’t need to know all of the answers to lead a project. If you are working with your team, asking for help, listening, and making informed decisions, you will have a solid base to grow and learn from as you take on bigger leadership roles.
The best way to learn is through experience. Each new experience teaches you what works well and what doesn’t and helps you create a management style that works for you. By acting as if you are the CEO of your role, each position you hold will prepare you to eventually take on a role in the C-suite.
Mike Morini is the CEO of WorkForce Software.