We are all looking to get ahead in our careers. But what are corporations looking for? What we have been told is a combination of business skills we have learned in school lumped into one big package. That package is the ideal candidate for a promotion. I have been fortunate enough to be involved in the promotion process and my past four years in HR have revealed that it comes down to a few core principles.
Never underestimate the value or power of work ethic. Shortcomings in other areas can be offset by an individual willing to do “whatever it takes”. This trait never goes unnoticed or undiscovered. Not only will it reflect in the work of the person but in their attitude and demeanor. This is someone that takes the extra step, although it can be difficult, to make sure things get completed. It seems that this has become rarer and rarer to find. The great news is it is 100% controllable so put in the extra effort and reap the rewards.
This ownership incorporates a few things. Ownership of yourself, your actions, and the actions of those you lead and work with. We all know those who are quick to pass the buck. When a problem occurs it is never them. Let’s reverse that train of thought and think about people we know who take ownership of their own actions and those they work with or manage. Not as easy to come up with. This is what separates leaders from followers. The few individuals who always accept responsibility emerge as leaders. They continue to learn from their mistakes and grow from them because they take ownership of their actions.
Accountability has two facets. Accountability of those you manage and accountability of yourself to follow through with commitments. Accountability is necessary to achieve results. Think of great teams or workgroups who are successful. The players or individuals in that group hold each other accountable. Without this, nothing gets done. Individuals who are successful learn how to hold themselves and their people accountable to meet goals and expectations. At the end of the day, it is much easier said than done.
I had the opportunity to listen to a speech given by one of the executive presidents of my company. His speech was short and concise. He asked all of us in the room what it took to get ahead. Everything from promptness to education was mentioned. He said one thing, Integrity. He continued and said always do the right thing. Never take shortcuts or compromise your integrity for anyone or anything. Essentially, it is what you do when no one is looking. It may take a lifetime to build a reputation but only one incident to ruin it. Nothing else means anything without integrity.