Global Leadership Speaker and Premier Work-Life Balance Speaker
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Move Up In Your Career

You should not ask what your company can do for you, but what you can do for your company—if I may take a turn with JFK’s words.

If you want to move up in your career, move yourself up by strategically driving your career and volunteering for assignments that demonstrate your value. Don’t ask for a promotion. Promote yourself by volunteering for special projects and committees, and expand your grasp and influence just by doing the bigger job you have created for yourself. The official promotions should come automatically because you are seen as a change agent, a contributor, and someone who is competent and deserving.

If you see something that needs to happen, you can say, “This seems to be a problem. I’d like to do x, y and z.” Or, “I think this is a real opportunity for us. I’d like to coordinate this.” Because they don’t cost the company anything extra, volunteer efforts are appreciated. If you keep doing that, you will demonstrate that you are visionary, proactive, productive and increasingly valuable to the team.

When Susan Parker worked for Southwest Airlines, she had a rapid trajectory up the hierarchy before becoming the senior director of marketing. Her title didn’t change for six years, but during that time, she significantly increased her influence and expertise by expanding three departments. As she said, “I did not wait for a responsibility to be assigned or a project to be given to me. I didn’t wait to be promoted to vice president to act like an officer. I saw business opportunities that needed to be pursued, and I pursued them.”

Successful people know how to leave their mark on the right projects and advertise their successes. It’s not about you. It’s about the company. Even if it is all about you. And, if the promotion doesn’t come automatically, you may need to come out and ask, “What else can I do to move to the next level?” If that doesn’t work, you may be in the wrong company.

But the greater point here is that it is up to you to drive your own career. Mentors will help you map it out, but you have to decide what you want and, ultimately, how you are going to travel to get it.

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