Growing in leadership is a key part of growing your career, your impact, and your community. While leadership skills and experience are a key part of growth, promotions, and more, early phases of your career often have limited opportunities to take on leadership roles. Even though there are limited opportunities, senior leaders are watching to see if you’re working to gain and hone your skills. Small and medium-sized businesses especially may have limited formal leadership roles, making it even more important for you to be a self-advocate in building your portfolio of leadership experience.
- Actively seek out professional development opportunities: Take advantage of any opportunities that your employer provides to learn and grow. Find resources outside of your job to work on learning as well. If you find external resources, advocate for yourself to receive funding from your Human Resources or Training Department, and commit the time to get the most of out the experience.
- Build a community of peers around you: Be on the lookout for people who are natural leaders with similar values and motivations. Find opportunities to get to know them and bring them into your circle. Bonus: Bring together friends and natural leaders by inviting them to happy hours, community activities, and more.
- Network with mentors, advisors, and sponsors who are in senior positions: Use projects, activities, and work socials as opportunities to connect with people who are farther along in their career and who may be willing to support you in your growth. Focus on showing up as a potential leader whom they would want to provide with support and advocacy.
- Volunteer to gain skills: Volunteer work can be a great avenue to take on leadership roles, develop skills, and gain new connections in the community. It makes you and your community stronger.
- Look to lift as you climb: As you begin to climb in your career, you’ll start seeing openings to offer opportunities and lift up people who are ready to grow. Great leaders work hard to support others in their journeys, especially those whose voices might not have made it to the table otherwise.
The key to all of these tips – be proactive! You will always be your own best advocate. Each of these tips will take you far in being a leader who influences your community, grows your career, and builds a legacy of impact.