One of the most exciting things about being a young professional today is the range of career opportunities that are becoming available, and the power to go after what they want. The business world is evolving, and young professionals are taking chances and leading with influence. Over the past couple of decades, new technology has driven the development of new business models, new industries, and new career paths. Also, millions of baby boomers are retiring every year, leaving countless leadership positions open for the taking!
Despite all of this, career starts can still be pretty rocky for young leaders. Many junior roles don’t offer opportunities for young professionals to contribute in a strategic capacity, often due to a combination of the size of the company and nature of the role.
Going above and beyond to have a strategic impact in a junior role is very difficult, but is one of the best ways to accelerate your career, sharpen your skill set, and get visibility with senior leadership. Consider these three ways junior leaders can use to begin leading with influence:
1. Invest in your network
It’s difficult to be strategic if you don’t know what’s going on throughout the business, and one of the main things that people in junior roles lack is information. Setting aside time to build relationships with people in different areas of the business is one of the best ways to get a feel for what’s actually going on in your organization.
This goes far beyond getting in front of senior leadership, however. Having open lines of communication with front-line staff and employees in other departments provides you with perspectives and information that will likely be of value to someone you work with.
2. Be a continuous source of new ideas
As a young leader, you are in the unique position of being able to bring new thinking to the table at your organization, and leading with influence is represented through such. However, the changes you propose might not always be feasible due to budget, politics, and/or pre-existing initiatives.
Don’t get discouraged in these situations! If one of your ideas isn’t received well, make sure you get feedback on both your idea and your approach: often, young leaders will propose ideas at inopportune or inappropriate times, which will sink the proposal instantly. In such events, it’s important to have established connections that will make all parties comfortable giving and receiving such feedback.
3. Seek out honest feedback
It’s easy to get caught up in your day-to-day responsibilities and forget to set some time aside to develop a better sense of what you have to offer, how you fit into the bigger picture, and what you need to work on.
In order to build increased self-awareness, we recommend that you seek out answers to questions like these from time to time:
Where can I contribute the most, based on my current strengths & abilities?
What gaps do I need to fill in order to operate more effectively?
What personal effectiveness habits could I be developing to support continued growth?
Your supervisor will have answers for you, of course, but feedback from less obvious sources (your team, people from other departments, and so on) can be just as valuable. Those in a junior role are just starting out, and leading with influence can be dependent on their confidence in themselves, and their abilities.
Our Relationship Intelligence™ Tool
Personality tests are valuable tools that enable reflection and self-awareness. However, when it comes to providing actionable steps to improve your leadership presence, these tools often fall short.
Our Relationship Intelligence™ Model helps you build great relationships and collaboration skills, work faster and create space for innovative ideas.
This can be a great asset in understanding you strengths and weaknesses as a leader, a coworker and an individual!
Leading With Your Own Style
A common misconception that people have is the extent to which being extroverted or introverted affects their leadership potential. For example, it’s often said that introverted people speak up less, tend to be socially shy, and get overwhelmed during intense social interactions.
When young leaders are told they’re introverted, they often take it to mean that they are doomed to be quiet and overlooked. They may even believe that they will not make great leaders. And worse yet, other senior managers, who make hiring and promotion decisions, may incorrectly believe that introverts do not make great leaders when they do!
What the extroversion/introversion scale actually reveals is what energizes people. In other words, introverts are very capable of being assertive and leading teams – it just tends to drain their energy levels so they plan their time and energy differently.
Introverts Do Make Great Leaders
In fact, introverts make very successful leaders. They simply bring their own valuable leadership skills as excellent listening skills, deep thinking, a sense of calm and a true value for meaningful relationships to name a few.
In HBR’s May-June 2017 edition, in their article on What Sets Successful CEO’s Apart, they share the power of introverts to lead. They share,
“Our findings challenged many widely held assumptions. For example, our analysis revealed that while boards often gravitate toward charismatic extroverts, introverts are slightly more likely to surpass the expectations of their boards and investors.”
It’s important to understand that every person we encounter in the workplace is a unique individual, with different opinions, methods and abilities. When a new leader starts out their career in a reserved manner, it doesn’t mean that they don’t have the potential to thrive, but that they have their own strategy to leading with influence successfully.