There are only a little over 400,000 CEOs in the U.S., making up less than .5% of the total workforce, which means it’s not easy to reach the coveted top tier of a company; doing so requires years of hard work and professional development. But no matter how many years of experience an employee has, there are several habits which will probably keep the door to the corner office closed for a long time.
Employees who aren’t sharing ideas, expressing opinions, offering suggestions, and providing support to the company and team are likely not contributing as much value as they could. Speaking up demonstrates many of the qualities leaders need: commitment, engagement, independence, and confidence, for example. If shyness is an issue, start small: share thoughts and feelings with your manager, and prepare talking points before meetings.
One of the best ways to impress managers is also one of the simplest: put in extra hours. Be the first one in the office, and be the last to leave. If a great idea occurs over the weekend, share it with your boss. Coming in early and staying late shows motivation and dedication to accomplishing goals.
Stick to the Routine.
Doing the same thing every day may get the job done, but it doesn’t add extra value to the company. Look for opportunities to take on more responsibilities at work, and then over-deliver on projects. Leave your comfort zone; try new things; or learn a new skill. Going the extra mile shows initiative, curiosity, and passion for the job.
Build relationships at work beyond professional courtesies and passing greetings. Ask about coworkers’ lives, their families, and their interests, and then share your own story. Foster a relationship of honesty, trust, and respect with your manager, and learn from them. Meet the executive leaders who are in the C-Suite, and note their leadership qualities. There are countless paths toward becoming a leader, but none of them are possible without great relationships.
Play it Safe.
Take risks early and often. Don’t settle for good but push for great instead. Most CEOs didn’t reach the top by following guidelines: they were innovative, creative, and dauntless. Taking risks can reveal unexpected opportunities, and even if the venture doesn’t work out, it probably resulted in a better lesson than the safe choice would have.