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How Becoming A Successful Young Leader At Work Is Not As Hard As You Think

How Becoming A Successful Young Leader At Work Is Not As Hard As You Think

Young leaders often consider their age to be a setback; however, there are some ways in which it is possible to maintain great working relationships with your colleagues while catapulting into success. Following these key ideas will mold you into a greater leader, one who is able to keep both yourself and your team happy.

1. Be prepared.

The first impression you make will be a lasting one. Whichever sector or department you work in, people will talk. This is precisely why you need to be clear with the impact and direction you intend to move in. This is especially true as a young leader, as people may not take you as seriously.

Understanding who plays what role within the company, and how they like to work also helps prevent causing initial friction, and can develop an understanding of company culture. Also, understand what the company expects from you so that you are clear as to what you need to achieve within yourself.

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2. Be a chameleon, not a peacock.

Everyone has met a peacock: a manager (not a leader) set in their ways, unwilling to adapt who flashes their feathers in everyone’s face. Every company has their own culture, and it is important to adapt to the company culture in order to understand how it works, and to determine your suitability. The majority of the workforce may have been working in their style for a long time, and so absorbing and comprehending the current culture is key to understanding how to progress, especially as a young leader.

3. Communication is key.

This means listening is more important than talking. Maintain a strong physical and social presence with your team, as they’ll feel more managed than led if you do not actively spend time with them. This could be by making sure your desk is with them, or just dropping by every now and again to track their progress, but make sure you are consistent. Also, make sure that you are always available to offer your team help. You are their go-to within the company, and if you want your team to deliver, you need to deliver to them as well.

4. Actively seek out opportunity.

This could be for yourself or members of your team, but is vital in being able to progress and develop. You may develop a style you feel would be more successful, be it using a different software package, or someone in a new role. The majority of your team are looking to develop, and as a leader, you should constantly be scouting for talent, and assessing their strengths and weaknesses. In doing this, they will trust and respect you more, irrespective of your age.

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5. Avoid negativity.

Positive reinforcement always works. It may take a little longer, but in the long run it will work out better for you and the team. Your team’s self-efficacy will grow, as will their trust in you. Being a young leader can give off a naive vibe, but you can tailor this to your advantage by forcing your team to actively search for solutions, rather than handing it to them on a plate. Negativity breeds loathing, and members of your team will be quicker to unite against you than to unite with you.

6. Don’t cap progress.

Within your team, there will be some who flourish within their role and aim to achieve more. It is important that, as a young leader, you allow them to progress. You may reach a point where there is nothing more that you can give them, that you may even consider offloading some of your own work to them, giving them an insight into your role and you more time to develop other members of the team. A great leader will have a self-maintaining team. Do not let your own fear of job security prevent you developing your team.

7. Pursue self-actualization.

This is more of a selfish point, but is essential. Let’s not beat around the bush—you want to progress and develop as much as your team does. Make sure your own goals are clear, both personal and professionally, and set yourself targets. Always learn and apply new techniques of leadership in order to see what works for you. The old saying “Knowledge is Power” always resonates truth (if you need a place to start, check out these 15 Best Leadership Books Every Young Leader Needs To Read).

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8. Establish rules, and follow them through.

Spending the majority of your waking hours with your team, you may begin to see them as friends more than colleagues which can cause problems. It is essential you establish some form of boundaries with regard to your professional relationships, as well as what you expect from your team, whether it be office courtesy, productivity, or out-of-office conduct. A leader who has a clear directive as to what they expect and what they wish for their team to achieve is much easier to follow—and to respect—than someone who is unsure as to what they intend to do. Be clear, concise, and informative.

9. Be a fair young leader.

Now you have established your boundaries, it is time to put them into play. However, make sure that you are consistent and fair to the whole team, and that you do not cause an imbalance within the team. The easiest way to do this is to be firm and direct with every member of the team, though as you develop and gain confidence, you will be able to be more creative and personalize your management style; you can see some different leadership styles here (5 Leadership Styles that Help You Build a High Performance Team).

10. Mix business with pleasure.

There’s nothing wrong with grabbing a drink with your team outside of work, and it gives you a great opportunity to get to know them on a deeper level. Just make sure you maintain an element of distance; otherwise, it can be very difficult when having to make tough decisions, especially when you’re younger than a lot of the team. Being a young leader, it might even be assumed that you may still be a recovering alcoholic (A.K.A. a graduate). Now go grab that drink, and get to know your team!

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Featured photo credit: Al Stephenson, Wikimedia via upload.wikimedia.org

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Last Updated on July 10, 2020

Feeling Stuck in Your Career? How to Break Free and Get Ahead

Feeling Stuck in Your Career? How to Break Free and Get Ahead

Have you ever caught yourself in a daydream where you’ve gone for that upcoming promotion, and you’re now the boss at work? Or how about the one where you’ve summoned up all your courage to quit a job where you’re feeling stuck in your career and live your dream instead? Or when you’ve changed career paths to do what really makes you happy?

Then, you snapped back to reality and realized that you’re not the boss, not living your dream, and not even happy in the career path that you’re on.

Over the years I’ve worked with hundreds of individuals who’ve told me they feel stuck in their careers, that something had to change for them to break free and be happy, but they lacked the confidence to take that step. My mission is to make sure that nobody feels stuck in their career because of a momentary lapse in bravery that’s dragged on for too long.

Read on to find out how you can stop feeling stuck in your career, break free, and get ahead at work. .

Here are my top ten tips for becoming unstuck in your career.

1. Make Time for You

If you’re feeling stuck, frustrated, or unhappy with how your career is panning out, the first step is to work out why.

Maybe you’ve arrived in your current career by accident and haven’t ever made time to deliberately think or plan what you’d love to do and how you’d get there.

Prioritizing time to think is the first step you need to take to stop feeling stuck and start getting ahead. Book some time into your day where you can have an uninterrupted meeting with yourself. This is your thinking time.

Work out what makes you happy at work, what doesn’t, and where you might want to go. Decide on the steps you want to take to progress your career in the direction that you want it to take.

For example, are there training days, evening courses, or online learning that you can do? Have you considered getting a mentor to help you get ahead?

By booking in a meeting with yourself, it signals it’s important (to you and your colleagues) and also stops others spotting a gap in your day and filling it with a meeting.

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2. Grow Your Network Before You Need It

Who you know is more important than what you know for career progression. Don’t wait until you’re feeling stuck in your career to start expanding your networks. Do it now.

Adam Grant, the author of Give and Take, says you’re 58% more likely to get a new job through your weak ties than through your strong ones. Your strong ties are those in your immediate circle whom you interact with often. Your weak ties are your friends of friends. They move in different circles to you, they know different people, make different connections, and are more likely to introduce you to new and different opportunities[1].

When I was thinking about setting up my current company, Lucidity, I turned up to every networking event. I drank a lot of coffees with a lot of different people to understand what they did, to ask for advice, to unpick what their problems were, and to look for opportunities for collaboration and connections.

It paid off because, when I launched my business, I let my network know how I could help them, and soon I had my first clients.

Pay attention to building and nurturing your networks and focus on how you can add value to other. That’s where your next career opportunity is most likely to come from.

3. Surround Yourself With People Who Inspire You

According to Tim Ferriss, “You are the average of the five people you most associate with,” and his associations with different people ebbs and flows depending on what he’s working on and trying to achieve[2].

For example, if you are trying to be fitter, it’s easier if you hang around with people who love doing exercise–they help you to up your game.

If you want that promotion, a career change, or to set up your own business, seek out people who are excelling at it already. They’ll have valuable things to teach you about breaking free and getting ahead.

4. Work on Your Personal Brand

Jeff Bezos defines a personal brand as “what people say about you when you’re not in the room.” People will talk about you when you are not in the room anyway, so you might as well be deliberate about what you’d like people to say!

Your personal brand isn’t about pretending to be something you’re not. That can actually keep you feeling stuck in your career. It’s really about being your best “real you.” It’s about owning your strengths and being purposeful about how you want to be perceived by others.

What do you want to be known for? By being more deliberate about how you want to come across and what you’re looking for in your career, you’ll increase your chance of attracting the right opportunities.

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Once you’ve given your personal brand some thought, make sure that you show up online. Is your LinkedIn profile up to date? And if you don’t have one, get one. Make sure it communicates what you want to be known for and that it’s consistent with your other social media profiles.

Try these 5 Steps to Master Networking Skills and Perfect Your Personal Branding.

5. Be Accountable

Achieve your career goals faster, and grow and learn by making yourself accountable. Tell other people your goals and a timeline. and have them to hold you accountable.

For example, you might want to get a promotion by the end of the year, have decided the sector you want to move to by the end of the month, or have got your new business idea before the next pay day. Whatever your ambitions are, you can tell a friend or a colleague, or share this with a mentor or a mastermind group.

When we tell other people our goals and intentions, they hold us accountable, and we are more likely to make progress faster.

6. Make Sure Your Values Are Aligned With Your Company’s

All the professional development, goal setting, and networks in the world won’t make you happy if you’re working for a company that ultimately has opposing values to yours.

Figure out what’s important to you in a job. For example, does your company’s product help people live a better life? Do you feel strongly about your company’s ethics and social responsibility? Does the company culture allows employees to be themselves and shine? Or maybe flexible working and more holidays for employees with families is where your heart is?

Some companies put their employees well-being at the core of their business; others put profits first. If you feel that your values don’t match the core values of your employer, it could be a reason why you’re feeling stuck in your career and unhappy.

It’s important to work through this and identify whether it’s the job that is not right for you, or if it’s a great job but the organization or sector is wrong for you.

7. Get out of Your Comfort Zone

Your comfort zone is your safe place. For any change to happen, you have to step out of your comfort zone.

It’s actually much easier not to change anything and to keep grumbling on about how you’re stuck and unhappy in your career than to step outside of your comfort zone to address the fearful unknowns associated with change. It’s part of human nature that we’d put up with the devil we know rather than risk the devil we don’t.

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This is true even if the devil we know is a boring, unfulfilling job because we’re wired to think that making a change to find a better option might actually leave us worse off.

If you feel stuck, it might be that your confidence has got the better of you.

To get ahead at work, start taking small steps outside of your comfort zone. Consider what you’re scared of that is stopping you from making a change. Then, tackle that in small steps.

For example, if you know that to move into the job you want, you’ll have to do more public speaking, but public speaking terrifies you so much it’s stopping you from going for the job, then start small to build your confidence. You can speak up more in team meetings, then slowly build from there.

You might also choose to set up or be part of a specific group. One of my clients, who found that confidence was holding her team back in achieving work goals, set up a “get out of your comfort zone club,” where they challenge and support each other to build their confidence by regularly leaving their comfort zones.

8. Learn to Embrace Failure

Failure is part of life. A New York University study found that children learning to walk averaged 2,368 steps and fell 17 times an hour[3]. Failure is simply the natural path to success.

The truth is that we don’t get everything right the first time. We fail, we learn, we pick ourselves up, and we try again.

In my experience, it’s common that whilst the theory of learning from failure is supported, the reality of being open about failures to enable personal learning is much harder to achieve.

We don’t like to admit that we’ve failed. We have a fight or flight response to failure. It’s a normal gut reaction to ask ourselves: “Will I get away with it if I don’t tell anyone?” We are fearful of criticism, of losing face in front of others, or even being fired for failure.

However, if you’re going to stop feeling stuck in your career, you must be open to learning from failure.

Reframe failure by viewing everything as an experiment because you can’t have a failed experiment—you just learn whether something works or not. Think of Edison inventing the lightbulb, when he said:

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“I’ve not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

9. Build Your Resilience

Resilience is the ability to tackle difficulties and setbacks, to bounce back, regroup, and to keep going.

Getting unstuck in your career, taking a different path, and achieving the results you want will take resilience. Having resilience is also the capacity to choose how you respond to the unexpected things that life throws your way and adapt and thrive in times of complex change.

Given that the world we live in is in constant flux, and the only thing that is certain is uncertainty, the ability to adapt and bounce back is an important life skill, as well as a career skill.

In her book Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, Angela Duckworth’s research shows that when measuring success, the ability to persevere beats talent every time.

Learn more about how to build resilience in this guide: What Is Resilience and How to Always Be Resilient (Step-By-Step Guide)

10. Ask for Help

It can be hard to ask for help, as it can make us feel vulnerable.

No one person can be expected to have all the answers. That’s why we need a group of people that we can go to for help, people who can pick us up when we have setbacks and also help us to celebrate success.

My advice is to be deliberate about creating your group. You can do that with a tool called a “Me Map”:

  1. Write down all the things that you might need support with, like help with career progression, interview practice, making new connections, talking through business plans, learning from failure, etc.
  2. Next to each thing, write the names of the people you go to when you need that particular thing.
  3. Make sure you get in touch and regularly connect with them.

Final Thoughts

You can stop feeling stuck in your career, break free, and get ahead at work by applying the tips in this article. Start small by incorporating three new things in your first week, and then adding more as your comfort zone and capacity expands.

Remember, no matter how stuck you feel, it’s never too late to make a change and land the career that you truly want.

More Tips to Stop Feeling Stuck in Your Career

Featured photo credit: NEW DATA SERVICES via unsplash.com

Reference

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