As young professionals progress in their careers, they begin looking for upward mobility in the ranks—attaining leadership positions. But, earning leadership positions is not easy. Many struggle to gain access to leadership positions, some more than others. In the United States, Asians find great difficulty moving from employee to leadership positions, causing them to be significantly underrepresented. However, this is not always due to direct discrimination. Organizations look for certain traits in employees to promote as leaders, and you must know how to display them in the workplace. To move up in the leadership ranks, consider the following principles.
Despite the negative connotations often associated with the word “social” in a professional context, being social in the workplace is a common trait of leaders. But, this doesn’t mean chatting with your peers about unrelated topics and wasting time. Being social in the workplace means connecting with your peers and forming relationships, building trust, and utilizing interpersonal skills. Empathy, intuition, and collaboration are all benefits from being social in the workplace. As a young professional, don’t be afraid to reach out to your peers and form relationships. Make sure to speak to many different people within the organization and pitch your ideas without being shy. Your employer will take notice and be more likely to promote you.
While being a social employee within the workplace will help you become a team leader, you must pair it with clear communication. Communicating with your co-workers is essential for powering collaboration and maintaining productivity. However, you have to go further to become a good leader. Besides being clear, you must be able to inspire your peers and convince them of your ideas. Sharing and broadcasting your ideas by communicating them effectively is a major component of being a leader.
In western business environments, don’t be afraid to share your thoughts. Modesty is associated with timidity and passivity, which are undesirable traits for leaders. So, to find a place as a leader, don’t be afraid of being too modest. Be prepared to take risks and share your ideas, no matter how radical or controversial. The ability to freely speak your mind is a trait that organizations associate with leadership. However, this does not mean being rude. Instead, it’s more about having confidence in yourself and your ideas. If you appear confidant, you will inspire it within others too. And inspiring others is the ultimate trait of a leader.
There are a multitude of traits that make a good leader. However, these three are the easiest and most effective ways for you to demonstrate your leadership skills in the workplace. As a young professional, don’t be afraid to speak up and take risks; you have your whole career still ahead of you. Leadership is not always easy or natural, but anyone can learn to be a good leader. Ultimately, if you want to move up the leadership ranks, all it takes is showing your supervisor your skills, enthusiasm, and creativity.
naisA Global is a 501(c)(3) non-profit educational organization dedicated to helping talented young Asian professionals unlock their potential and become great leaders.