Leadership at Every Rung of the Ladder

August 12, 2021
Leadership at Every Rung of the Ladder

What does it mean to you to be a leader? Maybe it means that team members turn to you for advice, that you're often chosen to help spearhead new initiatives, or that people appreciate your input and ideas. At Criteria for Success, we believe every person in an organization has a leadership role to play–no matter your professional level.

Here are some suggestions for how to be a great leader at any stage in your career.

Entry Level: Show Your Excellence.

Most people looking to fill entry-level positions are looking for those who will go the extra mile or can demonstrate they have the potential to grow into positions that would take on more responsibility.

For those just starting out in their career or in a new position, you can demonstrate your leadership abilities by exceeding expectations. Meeting the goals set out for you then finding creative ways to contribute above and beyond will communicate to your employer (and your colleagues) that you have what it takes to lead.

At higher levels, managers and executives are expected to be able to come up with creative solutions to tough businesses challenges, so put yourself in this category early to ensure you stay on the path to advancement.

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Mid-Level: Grow Your Team.

“Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.”

– Jack Welch, former CEO of GE

As you progress to mid-level management, you become in charge of teams, and your team's success demonstrates your capabilities. As a mid-level manager, supporting your team to grow and succeed in their roles will build your credibility as a leader capable of inspiring excellence.

This includes not taking all the credit–let your employees shine! If you have managed them well, their success will be an extension of your strength as a leader, and your supervisors will notice.

Lastly, remember that you were once in the shoes of the team you manage. Can you think of a leader who you appreciated because they supported you, and if not, can you become the leader you wish you'd had when you were starting out? These questions can help guide your choices as a leader.

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Executive: Set Goals and Enable Success.

At the Executive level, your job is to define the goals for your company and to help your team get there. This stage is all about enabling the great teams you have working for you to leverage their strengths and build a great company together.

This might mean reorganizing your team to make sure you have strong employees you can trust and let them run with the ball. Micromanaging isn't fun for anyone!

Much like the reflections of mid-level management, ask yourself: what would have been helpful for me while I was coming up in my career? Was I given direction and opportunities to grow, and if not, how can I become the leader that does provide what I once wanted?

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Wherever you are in your professional journey, you can benefit from growing your leadership skills and instincts. Not only will your higher-ups appreciate (and perhaps even reward) your strength, but you will feel more fulfilled and energized by your career. Everyone likes to succeed and feel valued, and taking charge of your development as a leader will help you get there.

What advice would you give to someone who is trying to develop their leadership skills? Tell us in the comments! Want to stay up to date with CFS? Follow us on Twitter @CFSPlayBook!

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