In the era of professionally branded social media, we are exposed to young workplace rock stars now more than ever. You see it on LinkedIn and Twitter all the time. Young people in high profile roles getting congratulated by their peers. Promotions publicly announced to their entire network.
And you’re sitting there reading their statuses and shout outs, in awe of their accomplishments and talent, hoping that the same thing happens to you one day.
It will happen to you one day, guaranteed. You’ll overcome a lot of obstacles, solve a lot of problems, make your share of mistakes, fix them and learn valuable lessons.
If you stay consistent, you’ll get there. Everyone with experience will tell you this.
However, if you want to get there faster, there are a few things you can do that would be a win win for both yourself and the company that you’re working for.
Bring good energy
You’re almost always going to be working in a team capacity in one way or another, and it goes without saying that people tend to feed off each other’s energy. Especially in a team setting.
It’s easy to bring good energy and a positive attitude when things are going smooth and everything is great. But there will be times where things get rough for weeks, months, and possibly even a year or two. This is when bringing good energy to your team requires active effort and is the most important. This is the easiest and fastest path to leadership.
Nobody wants to be around negative, stressed out people. It’s not going to push the team forward. It’s not going to push the culture forward. It’s easy to complain and express frustration, but it won’t get you anywhere.
You can do it like it’s a great weight on you, or you can do it like it’s part of the dance.
— Ram Dass
People who decide to bring good energy during tough stretches are rare, but it’s something all of us have the ability to do.
Take on side projects and deliver
The 80/20 policy popularized by Google’s founders suggests that employees should take 20% of their time and dedicate it to side projects that would help the company.
You might be thinking that this is ridiculous. If we take a 5 day work week, it would mean dedicating an entire day each week to a side project. Nobody who has a demanding job has time for that!
And I would tend to agree with you, but hear me out.
Great things tend to start off really small. Think about some small problems that you would like to solve within your company. It might not take 20% of your week in the beginning. Fix them one at a time. You’ll get into a good rhythm of managing your primary workload and executing side projects. Small projects become medium projects. Medium projects have the possibility of becoming something huge and have a positive impact on your career. But first, just start.
Participate in culture development
A company’s culture oftentimes determines it’s scalability and success in the long run. As employees, we are users, contributors, and stakeholders of company culture.
The law of attraction is ever so true and if you want to attract awesome people, you’ll need to put in some effort to make yourself awesome first.
This is where your company needs you you roll up your sleeves and participate in producing great culture. You can have fun doing it as well. Enjoy cooking? Share your best dishes with your coworkers. Passionate about fitness? Start a challenge between different teams. Made a mistake at work? Be accountable and show everyone how to learn from it. Have a business problem you would like to tackle? Form a team of motivated hustlers throughout the company and collaborate on a project.
Work hard, don’t forget to have fun in the process.
Build strong cross functional relationships
I found that at larger companies it’s much harder to do this than at smaller companies. But it is still possible. If a company is growing, it’s important to your own career growth that you don’t get siloed into interacting with only your immediate team.
There’s always collaborative work going on. Oftentimes I’ve found that people like to treat the company like a battleground and teams would be competing with each other, playing corporate hot potato to see who can dump off collaborative work onto a single person’s plate. Avoid this bad habit.
Reputation matters within a company. What you do today will impact your professional brand 5 years from now. Chances are, you and your coworkers are going to be moving across teams as you grow within a company and it will greatly benefit you if people are excited about the prospect of working with you on something big.