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These Are The Career Tips You Need To Stand Out At Work

These Are The Career Tips You Need To Stand Out At Work

So, you’ve started your first real job and kicked off your career. You go into the office each day and try your hardest to do a great job. You’re on time and do what your boss asks of you. But, pretty soon, something becomes apparent: that’s not going to be enough to set you apart from the crowd.

If you want to be more than just a great employee and actually advance your career, it’s going to take more thoughtful effort. And that doesn’t mean sucking up to your boss every day.

Here are five tips to help you distinguish yourself at work, as well as help the organization achieve its goals.

1. Find your calling.

It’s a cliché because it’s true: If you really want to stand out, do something that you’re not only good at, but that you love doing. Having a true passion for what you do reflects positively in your attitude and in the quality of your work. And that can help you get noticed in a good way.

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First, you need to refine your idea about what you want to do professionally. When you’re first starting out in your career in an entry-level position, there are a thousand opportunities to try different things. Seize as many of those opportunities as you possibly can while still excelling at your core responsibilities. To take full advantage, you need to know which ones are most conducive to your professional development.

Consider taking a personality test or using a career exploration app, like my company’s PathSource app, to narrow down your options. That way, when a new project comes along and offers you a chance to shine, you’ll recognize it and be able to jump right in.

2. Pick a leader’s brain.

One of the best things you can do for your career is to learn from those above you, even if they’re not your direct managers. They may have a deep understanding of what it takes to make it in the industry and in the organization. When you find a leader you admire, ask to take them out to lunch or for coffee.

Ask what traits or qualities have been instrumental to their own success. Find out what they think makes someone a valuable team member. Even if they’re just a project head and not a high-up boss, you might be surprised by the valuable insights they have to offer. If they’re working on something that is particularly interesting to you, see if there’s a way for you to get involved in your free time so you can get some hands-on experience. Just take the time to clear your involvement with your current supervisor so they don’t think you’re neglecting your duties.

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3. Know the organization’s priorities.

Something that a lot of young professionals forget is that their personal career goals aren’t on the same level as those of the organization. Yes, it’s important to set and reach for your own professional mile markers, but not at the expense of the company’s goals.

Make sure that you truly understand the organization’s mission, values, and priorities. Then, find ways to make those things overlap with your own goals and values. If you focus on incorporating those aspects of the organization into your actions and work, you’ll be a lot more likely to be noticed than if you were just trying to achieve your personal goal of getting a promotion.

4. Be a team player.

This might seem obvious, but in practice it gets difficult. There are going to be days when you’re overwhelmed and a co-worker asks you to lend your expertise and proofread their work. It’s going to be the last thing you want to do, but it will pay off in the long run.

If you’re willing to lend a hand to your co-workers — without expecting a favor in return — they’ll remember it. It’ll help you build stronger connections within the company that can really come in handy down the road.

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5. Focus on process-oriented ideas.

Young professionals spend a lot of time trying to come up with that big idea that will set them apart. Whether it’s a new product or a marketing campaign, they want to be the one that came up with the game-changing idea.

But then they forget the most important part: how to implement that idea.

With every great project, the how is just as important as the what. Finding ways to organize people and get them on the same page goes a long way in contributing to a project’s success. Not to mention, making people’s jobs easier is something they’ll thank you for.

If you’re trying to distinguish yourself at work, in many cases, you’ll need to take the focus away from yourself. It might seem counterintuitive, but helping others and becoming a valuable member of the organization is key to career success.

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What other career tips are there for young professionals trying to stand out at work? Share in the comments below!

Aaron Michel is the co-founder and CEO at PathSource, a career exploration solution that has helped thousands of students and job seekers make better career choices through its free iOS app. To navigate your infinite career possibilities, connect with Aaron and the PathSource team on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via pixabay.com

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Last Updated on April 9, 2020

5 Types of Leadership Styles (And Which Is Best for You)

5 Types of Leadership Styles (And Which Is Best for You)

It takes great leadership skills to build great teams.

The best leaders have distinctive leadership styles and are not afraid to make the difficult decisions. They course-correct when mistakes happen, manage the egos of team members and set performance standards that are constantly being met and improved upon.

With a population of more than 327 million, there are literally scores of leadership styles in the world today. In this article, I will talk about the most common types of leadership and how you can determine which works best for you.

5 Types of Leadership Styles

I will focus on 5 common styles that I’ve encountered in my career: democratic, autocratic, transformational, transactional and laissez-faire leadership.

The Democratic Style

The democratic style seeks collaboration and consensus. Team members are a part of decision-making processes and communication flows up, down and across the organizational chart.

The democratic style is collaborative. Author and motivational speaker Simon Sinek is an example of a leader who appears to have a democratic leadership style.

    The Autocratic Style

    The autocratic style, on the other hand, centers the preferences, comfort and direction of the organization’s leader. In many instances, the leader makes decisions without soliciting agreement or input from their team.

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    The autocratic style is not appropriate in all situations at all times, but it can be especially useful in certain careers, such as military service, and in certain instances, such as times of crisis. Steve Jobs was said to have had an autocratic leadership style.

    While the democratic style seeks consensus, the autocratic style is less interested in consensus and more interested in adherence to orders. The latter advises what needs to be done and expects close adherence to orders.

      The Transformational Style

      Transformational leaders drive change. They are either brought into organizations to turn things around, restore profitability or improve the culture.

      Alternatively, transformational leaders may have a vision for what customers, stakeholders or constituents may need in the future and work to achieve those goals. They are change agents who are focused on the future.

      Examples of transformational leader are Oprah and Robert C. Smith, the billionaire hedge fund manager who has offered to pay off the student loan debt of the entire 2019 graduating class of Morehouse College.

        The Transactional Style

        Transactional leaders further the immediate agenda. They are concerned about accomplishing a task and doing what they’ve said they’d do. They are less interested in changing the status quo and more focused on ensuring that people do the specific task they have been hired to do.

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        The transactional leadership style is centered on short-term planning. This style can stifle creativity and keep employees stuck in their present roles.

        The Laissez-Faire Style

        The fifth common leadership style is laissez-faire, where team members are invited to help lead the organization.

        In companies with a laissez-faire leadership style, the management structure tends to be flat, meaning it lacks hierarchy. With laissez-faire leadership, team members might wonder who the final decision maker is or can complain about a lack of leadership, which can translate to lack of direction.

        Which Leadership Style do You Practice?

        You can learn a lot about your leadership style by observing your family of origin and your formative working experiences.

        Whether you realize it, from the time you were born up until the time you went to school, you were receiving information on how to lead yourself and others. From the way your parents and siblings interacted with one another, to unspoken and spoken communication norms, you were a sponge for learning what constitutes leadership.

        The same is true of our formative work experiences. When I started my communications career, I worked for a faith-based organization and then a labor union. The style of communication varied from one organization to the other. The leadership required to be successful in each organization was also miles apart. At Lutheran social services, we used language such as “supporting people in need.” At the labor union, we used language such as “supporting the leadership of workers” as they fought for what they needed.

        Many in the media were more than happy to accept my pitch calls when I worked for the faith-based organization, but the same was not true when I worked for a labor union. The quest for media attention that was fair and balanced became more difficult and my approach and style changed from being light-hearted to being more direct with the labor union.

        I didn’t realize the impact those experiences had on how I thought about my leadership until much later in my career.

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        In my early experience, it was not uncommon for team members to have direct, brash and tough conversations with one another as a matter of course. It was the norm, not the exception. I learned to challenge people, boldly state my desires and preferences, and give tough feedback, but I didn’t account for the actions of others fit for me, as a black woman. I didn’t account for gender biases and racial biases.

        What worked well for my white male bosses, did not work well for me as an African American woman. People experienced my directness as being rude and insensitive. While I needed to be more forceful in advancing the organization’s agenda when I worked for labor, that style did not bode well for faith-based social justice organizations who wanted to use the love of Christ to challenge injustice.

        Whereas I received feedback that I needed to develop more gravitas in the workplace when I worked for labor, when I worked for other organizations after the labor union, I was often told to dial it back. This taught me two important lessons about leadership:

        1. Context Matters

        Your leadership style must adjust to each workplace you are employed. The challenges and norms of an organization will shape your leadership style significantly.

        2. Not All Leadership Styles Are Appropriate for the Teams You’re Leading

        When I worked on political campaigns, we worked nonstop. We started at dawn and worked late into the evening. I couldn’t expect that level of round-the-clock work for people at the average nonprofit. Not only couldn’t I expect it, it was actually unhealthy. My habit of consistently waking up at 4 am to work was profoundly unhealthy for me and harmful for the teams I was leading.

        As life coach and spiritual healer Iyanla Vanzant has said,

        “We learn a lot from what is seen, sensed and shared.”

        The message I was sending to my team was ‘I will value you if you work the way that I work, and if you respond to my 4 am, 5 am and 6 am emails.’ I was essentially telling my employees that I expect you to follow my process and practice.

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        As I advanced in my career and began managing more people, I questioned everything I thought I knew about leadership. It was tough. What worked for me in one professional setting did not work in other settings. What worked at one phase of my life didn’t necessarily serve me at later stages.

        When I began managing millennials, I learned that while committed to the work, they had active interests and passions outside of the office. They were not willing to abandon their lives and happiness for the work, regardless of how fulfilling it might have been.

        The Way Forward

        To be an effective leader, you must know yourself incredibly well. You must be self-reflective and also receptive to feedback.

        As fellow Lifehack contributor Mike Bundrant wrote in the article 10 Essential Leadership Qualities That Make a Great Leader:

        “Those who lead must understand human nature, and they start by fully understanding themselves…They know their strengths, and are equally aware of their weaknesses and thus understand the need for team work and the sharing of responsibility.”

        The way to determine your leadership style is to get to know yourself and to be mindful of the feedback you receive from others. Think about the leadership lessons that were seen, sensed and shared in your family of origin. Then think about what feels right for you. Where do you gravitate and what do you tend to avoid in the context of leadership styles?

        If you are really stuck, think about using a personality assessment to shed light on your work patterns and preferences.

        Finally, the path for determining your leadership style is to think about not only what you need, or what your company values, but also what your team needs. They will give you cues on what works for them and you need to respond accordingly.

        Leadership requires flexibility and attentiveness. Contrary to unrealistic notions of leadership, being a leader is less about being served and more about being of service.

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        Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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