Roy Osing
05 Mar 2018

8 easy things I did to move from the bottom to president

You successfully navigated yourself through school. You mastered the art of getting by the recruiter-gatekeeper to tell your story and convince someone that you were worthy of employment; that you could add value to their organization over the long run.

You landed the job you were after. Congratulations. You're in. 

But recognize that you are entering a new era of your life and career; a period where success and fulfillment depends not on what got you to this point, but on acquiring new skills and competencies necessary to get you where you want to go.

Your past achievements are irrelevant to your future success; they may have influenced you getting through the door, but they guarantee nothing in terms of what happens from here on in. 

Your past is merely table stakes to play the career game; you need good credentials to play the game, but you won't win unless you build on them and become a different person.

In no particular order, here are the actions I took to move from my entry level job as a systems analyst to the president of a major data and internet organization.

Be an expert on the strategy of the organization 

What challenges does it face over the next five years or so. Your opinion on any matter is a function of whether or not people believe you and trust your judgment. This takes time but be diligent and patient and watch your internal currency grow.

Establish a strong internal network 

Connect and engage with people who are viewed as movers and shakers within the organization. You want to be recognized as a member of the "young and restless" crowd who are impatient with the status quo and who show significant potential to move around and up the ladder.

Look for opportunities to go beyond your current job responsibilities

Excel in your current position but be seen as someone who is looking for more and who wants to make a difference in moving the organization to the next level. And don't ask permission; empower yourself when you see an opportunity to do more than what is demanded of your job role and just do it.

Look at everything you do from a “be different” lens

To be successful in any organization requires that you must stand-out from others; that you are perceived as that special person who can make a difference . Do whatever it takes to avoid being described as a “commoner” who fits into the herd. 

"How can I do this differently?" should be the question that drives your action. Be contrarian. Do the opposite to what others are doing. Find a new box to play in.

Accept any personal recognition you get with grace and humility 

Pass recognition for a job well done on to your colleagues who were with you in whatever journey is attracting the attention. Give them the plaudits as team heroes. You never want to be perceived as a narcissistic “I person” who wants all the accolades and to constantly be in the spotlight.

Read. Read. Read. 

Voraciously consume what thought leaders are saying about the matters relevant to your organization and learn from them. Your favourite authors can also be your most impressive mentors so find people and material who can guide and enable you to apply new thinking to the business problems of the day.

Hone your communications skills 

And make your communications skills an integral part of your personal brand.

It's one thing to think differently, but if you can't effectively communicate your thoughts to others and hook them with your passion, nothing happens and your brave idea dies.

Get on the internal speaking circuit; talk about where the organization is going and the opportunities presented for people. Stir people’s emotions; establish your currency as one who is an activist and catalyst for change.

Declare your loyalty to the organization 

And do it through what you say and what you do. 

This is a challenge for the individual who views their first job as one of many and who don't plan on working for any one organization forever. 

My advice to you is this: be loyal to the organization while you are with them; do everything to get "loyal" integral to your young brand. Get recognized as someone who doesn't have their eyes constantly on the next personal career horizon. 

Be comfortable with the notion that IF better opportunities present themselves, fine, but don't spend every day looking for the greener pasture. Others will see you for what you are and you will not move ahead.

Once you have landed a job the really tough work starts for those who want a career studded with gems of experience and advancement. Success isn’t rocket science it’s all about pounding on the basics consistently and with passion all day every day.

Roy Osing (@royosing) is a former President and CMO with over 33 years of leadership experience covering all the major business functions including business strategy, marketing, sales, customer service and people development. He is a blogger, content marketer, educator, coach, adviser and the author of the book series Be Different or Be Dead


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