Leadership & Management: Advice for Young Professionals

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There are managers and there are leaders – many people are great at being both. A good leader demonstrates autonomy and independent thought on a regular basis. Good managers are mindful and considerate of the dynamics of your teams and networks. Utilizing a strong combination of leadership and management skills in the workplace will help build your credibility and advance your career.

Whether you’re a current manager leading a team or entering a manager-level role in the near future, keep the following lessons in mind and you’ll be well on your way to success:

Every task or project is an opportunity for leadership

Imagine you are the CEO of every project you are given. Think to yourself: If the existence of this project depended on me, how would I execute? How do I take it to the next level? Each new venture is an opportunity for you to switch it up, keep things fresh, and dive outside your comfort zone. Bringing new, original thinking to everything you do is an important part of great leadership.



Photo courtesy of Corporate Traveller

Bring your voice to the table, whether it’s your first day or your 800th day

Speak up! Many people fear rejection when suggesting a thought or idea and often stay silent during meetings or brainstorm sessions. By expressing your opinion, you’re bringing fresh eyes, a fresh voice, and fresh perspective. Making great points during a group discussion demonstrates strong leadership, even if you’re most junior person in room, and will help you stand out in a really good way.

You don’t have to be great at everything – and that’s okay

We all have weaknesses, and it’s important to recognize what your limitations are. At the same time, understand your greatest strengths and capitalize on them by seeking opportunities where you know you will excel. Knowing what you’re good at, and being amazing at it, shows others that they can depend on you and helps to establish your credibility. If you’ve proven yourself to be a trusted, reliable employee, saying no once in a while is okay – and people will listen.

Treat every person like they are the most important person in your career

A strong manager understands that it’s just as crucial to manage down as it is to manage up. If your only focus is pleasing your own manager, people working below you will know it. While you always want to be in good standing with upper management, make sure you’re nurturing positive relationships with every person you work with, whether it be a new junior on your team or a counterpart from a different department. Being a team player and reliable resource for each of your co-workers will help to ensure you are being viewed in a positive light by everyone around you.

Your network is key

Building and maintaining your network of trusted advisors and peers is, arguably, the most important thing you can do for your career. Connect with people outside your department. Exchange thoughts and ideas with others who are in a similar role. Listen to advice that is given to you and offer yours when appropriate. Having a group of people that you know will support you and help you navigate through certain tasks plays a huge role in advancing your career. Not only will your support system offer fresh perspective when you need it, but it will be an invaluable resource for when it comes time to make those larger, career decisions.

Have additional tips or want to share your experience? Let us know in the comments.

About the Author

Melissa is a guest blogger for FindSpark. You can find her on Twitter @mwhui and LinkedIn

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