Hard work and creativity will pay dividends when you're heading up the career ladder.
Share this article
So you’ve got your finals under your belt, enjoying the calm after the storm and starting to look forward to your next chapter: the big step into the world of work. Now’s a good time to start thinking a little bit (not too hard, you’ve earned a bit of a rest!) about how you can approach your working life.
If you’re ambitious and you’re aiming to climb as high as you can, here are some simple but effective things that have made a difference to me in my journey to becoming a CEO.
Get the basics right. You will have a boss who will be relying on you to deliver. Above all, the simplest thing you can do is deliver your task without needing to be chased. The people who don’t need chasing or need their work correcting are rare. Aim to be one of them and you’ll get noticed.
1. Think beyond the brief.
If you can deliver on time AND give your manager more than they expected, you’ll be standing out even more. In my agency, The Specialist Works, we operate in media, one of the fastest-changing sectors.
My best young staff automatically look beyond what I’m asking them for and look for and look for other relevant information and opportunities. They are the millennials who know social media, mobile or youth attitudes. I expect their answers to be better than my brief on these subjects!
2. If you’re doing 1, you’ll find you get more work than the people around you. This is what you want. It may sound obvious, but the more you want to progress, the harder you should expect to work.
Welcome the opportunity to learn more, but remember it should be enjoyable too – if it’s not, then maybe you’re in the wrong job. Be prepared to change early in your career. When you find a company where hard work is exciting rather than a chore, you’ll know. Then commit – and show your commitment. I’ll always promote the more committed of two equal candidates.
3. Learn from leaders.
Look out for the best leaders in your organisation (tip: they are likely to be the ones with the busy, focused and cheerful people reporting to them) and see how they carry themselves, how they talk to people, the standards they set for themselves and others and their general behaviour. Try and adopt what impresses you the most, adapting to your own style.
4. Be generous.
Remember you’re not on The Apprentice, in most companies it’s not a zero-sum game where someone else must fail for you to succeed.
5. Never stop learning.
Enjoy exploring around your specialisation and management in general. There are thousands of business books, read their blurbs or use an app like Blinkist and you’ll find ones that resonate with you. You’ll pick up usable tips from the good ones. Also read about emotional intelligence, this is key leadership learning. Go on courses if they are offered, watch TED talks, listen to podcasts - all of these will build your knowledge and feed your enthusiasm.
And above all, find the fun in what you are doing. You may have a clear plan and timeframe for what you want to achieve, or you’re happy to keep your options open and look for opportunities. Either way, the best CEOs love what they do. As you start your career journey, you’re in a perfect position to adapt and find something that inspires you.