How to make your way to the top: secrets for being successful

Don’t shy away from difficult decisions

This is key, and typically the measure by which executive-class managers and heads of departments are judged. Big decisions aren’t easy to make but when the buck stops with no-one else and you can prove you’re able to make difficult decisions, you’ll be a terrific asset.

Keep your friends close

There’s an old adage which says that in business it’s not what you know, but who you know. While this shouldn’t be an excuse to sit back and hope an old school pal casually calls one day up to offer you the vice-presidency of his company, it does mean you should actively network with friends, acquaintances, former colleagues and so on.

Appreciate the people around you

Managers need quality people around them. You might be the figurehead of the company, the brand ambassador and high-profile leader but below you there should be a formidable team of managers reporting into you. Appreciate them, nurture them, reward them well and invest in them, and they’ll  continue to do their job superbly, to support you and to go that extra mile.

Learn how to sell yourself

Modesty has little place in the career of a top-level manager or director. Self-promotion is an important tool to have at your disposal – upsell your skills, your experience and your overall knowledge. If you can learn how to sell yourself then you not only put yourself on a pedestal within your own company but also establish a strong reputation within the industry. Don’t overcook it and become arrogant or overbearing, but do maximise your worth.

Recognise an opportunity

Successful people are able to identify opportunities and are willing to take the necessary risks associated with them. Carefully evaluate a situation to see if the risk is worth it but always keep your eyes and ears open for exciting new opportunities: don’t wait to see something fall into place in its own time – drive the agenda and take the initiative.

Learn from your mistakes

Everyone makes mistakes but successful people pick themselves up and move on. Resilience isn’t just about mental toughness, just as important is having a support network. That may be your partner, family or professional peer group. Friendship and love can help overcome the hardest fall. Mistakes build character and strength, and the very best learn from a difficult experience and resolve to operate differently next time around.

Find your own leadership style

It’s fine reading the latest books and websites on leadership, and it’s commendable – and advisable at an earlier career stage – to have a mentor to consult and look up to. But you can only be true to yourself and be your own person, and you must embrace a leadership style you feel comfortable with. You’ll soon find what people respond to and it doesn’t have to follow a particular process from the latest business best seller.

Draw on your strengths – but delegate where necessary

Good managers are very aware of their strengths and weaknesses. Work to your strengths but if a task comes up that’s a bit out of your comfort zone, delegate it to someone else and make an effort in the future to improve in that area. Another maxim for successful business leaders: surround yourself with people smarter than you, and you can’t go wrong.

Image: steps to the top via shutterstock


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