How to Establish Yourself as a Leader

How to Advance Your Career

By Matt Alderton

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The cream always rises to the top. And at most companies, the cream of the crop are leaders. In order to climb the corporate ladder, therefore, you must prove to the people around you that you have what it takes to lead.

"There are appointed leaders and there are accepted leaders — and being the first doesn't guarantee that you'll be the second," says Forbes.com contributor Erika Andersen, author of "Leading So People Will Follow." "Fortunately, you can start working on being someone who people will accept as a leader long before you're appointed to lead."

A leader, in the simplest terms, is "someone whom others trust to influence and guide them," according to Andersen, who offers the following tips for establishing yourself as a leader, no matter what your current title or position is:

Understand your business: "If you don't understand how your business works — how the business provides value to its customers, how the parts operate together, what the competitive landscape looks like — it's unlikely anyone is going to look to you for guidance or insight," Andersen says. "If you want to find out whether or not you understand your business, start by asking yourself these questions: How does our product or service get created — that is, what's the process it goes through from idea to execution? How do we let customers know what we have and why it's valuable? How do we interact with customers, and who's responsible for that? What are our company's most important goals — and what are we doing to achieve them? If you don’t know the answers to those questions, get curious; start exploring."

Show support for colleagues' success: "When you show, through your words and deeds, that you have others' best interests at heart, those people will see you as supportive of the group as a whole (vs. only on your own success), and they will begin to trust you to influence and guide them," Andersen explains. "This is something you can start doing right now: If someone raises an idea in a meeting that you think is good, say so. If a co-worker asks for your help, help them if it's at all possible. If someone has a problem and you can see a solution, offer it."

Contribute more to the success of the business: "People who focus mainly on how they can provide the greatest value to the business are much more likely to be seen as leaders," Andersen says. "And then, when those folks ask for a promotion, they're much more likely to get it. In my experience, most bosses want to reward employees who are making the boss' life easier (e.g., doing valuable work that needs doing and helps the business)."

For more tips, go to:

http://www.forbes.com/sites/erikaandersen/2012/11/14/how-to-be-seen-as-a-leader-at-any-point-in-your-career/
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