Ever wonder how the top guys in the corporate world got there? While the easy answer may be a lot of hard work along with a healthy dose of good fortune, advice from top executives indicates that there are some consistent ideas and practices that have a proven track record of leading to the top.
Climb the Right Ladder
Anyway you look at it, rock climbing and mountain climbing is tough, but the most effective climbers are those who climb because they love the sport; they have a passion that drives them to endure the hardness for the thrill that wells up inside when they conquer and reach the top. The same is true in the corporate world: the climb up the ladder of success is easiest when you enjoy the activity that is taking you there (1). Andrew Carnegie put it this way: “You cannot push anyone up the ladder unless he is willing to climb (2).”
Seek to Learn
Those who do the best are those who are willing to garner knowledge from the experiences and wisdom of others. Two main strategies for learning are a prevalent theme in success stories:
- Learn Your Industry – educate yourself about the ins and outs of your company, but also about the field in general. The more you can study, take courses, and gain knowledge that will improve you as an employee, the more valuable you be come to your company. A skilled, knowledgeable person is more likely to be retained and promoted than someone who knows little.
- Ask Questions – making sure you understand something rather than forging ahead and making an ignorant mistake is always a plus for employers. While many people think that asking questions give the appearance of stupidity, it actually shows respect for the knowledge of the person being asked, and a willingness to learn. It is no shame to ask: no one is born an expert (3).
An excellent way to build a rapport with your current supervisor, manager, or employer is by going beyond the call of a duty. Do a little extra, be a little early; be the person who does not cut corners, but instead makes extra wide swaths around them, doing the job exceptionally well. Volunteer for extra work and the jobs no one else wants shows that you are concerned with team success rather than getting by with just enough (4).
Display Sterling Character
One of the greatest maxims in the English language is a great motto for climbing the proverbial ladder: “Honesty is the best policy.” Being known as a person of integrity, someone whose word can be relied on is a critical characteristic of the best team players. But great character goes beyond telling the truth, it involves avoiding gossip, never cheating the company, and always being above board in your actions (4). Sometimes honesty involves sharing your dreams. Do not hesitate to list your dreams on an individual development plan (IDP) or other such company information tool; it just might be the lead that takes you a step or two higher up the rungs of success.