Just because you’re not the boss, doesn’t mean you can’t be a boss. For most of you, the job you land after graduation will be your first professional position. This professional position comes with a lot of new responsibilities as well as many opportunities to develop leadership skills. Deciding how you manage these new responsibilities and what opportunities you wish to purse will set the tone for the start of a successful career. Below are five ways to build leadership skills in your first post-UConn job.
- Go the Extra Mile
Don’t just blend in with the crowd. It can be overwhelming being the “new person” in the office, but don’t let that stop you! When tasked with a project, get involved right away, ask questions, collaborate with staff members and continue to work collectively toward the common goal. Learn as much as you can and don’t be afraid to utilize the resources that are available to you.
But how do you go the extra mile? So, let’s say you’re manager has tasked you to research social media analytics platforms for your organization. Instead of providing your employer with a list of the top 10 social media analytics platforms – go the extra mile and get demos and quotes for each of the platforms as well. Show your employer you took the extra steps needed to help them make a sound decision for the company.
Yes, it’s true – you should learn as much as you can about your organization before you start suggesting changes, but don’t be shy to ask questions. Become familiar with your company’s mission, vision, annual reports and strategic plans. Understanding where your company has been, where they currently are, and where they’re trying to go is very important. Do what you can to understand “the bigger picture” and why things are done a certain way. You won’t be “the new person” forever. After a few months, you will begin to feel more comfortable speaking up and contributing ideas without fear of judgement. For an organization to work effectively, everyone needs to contribute ideas. Take things a step further – do your research and provide solutions and answers instead of just identifying problems. Brainstorming practical cost-effective solutions always makes the boss happy!
- Ask for Constructive Feedback & How You Can Help More
You never want to be surprised during a job performance review about how well (or not) you’re doing. You always want your supervisor to feel like you’re producing. Get used to regularly asking for feedback on how you’re doing. If you feel like you’re ready to take on more, ask your supervisor if there is anything more you can do to contribute to the organization? Asking for feedback should be a regular agenda item when speaking with your supervisor during your one-on-ones.
- Join a Committee
Every opportunity counts; whether you’re the treasurer on the social committee for your company picnic or secretary for the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) – you’re building your leadership skills and showing your supervisor that your continuing to develop professionally. Interactions like these will help you network with your fellow colleagues and build your professional relationships.
- Join a Professional Organization
Good news – your participation with clubs and organizations doesn’t have to end in college! When you enter the workforce, you can build on your knowledge and skills by joining a professional organization in within your field or industry. Trust me – there is something out there for everyone. In most cases, your colleagues will be very helpful in this area and can provide you with some insight on what group(s) your organization is affiliated with. If your employer isn’t allied with any particular organizations, LinkedIn can also be great resource for connecting with professional organizations.
If you need help with deciding which group is best for you, LinkedIn is a great place to start. LinkedIn allows you to search groups by your interests or industry.
Quick How to – LinkedIn Group Search:
Let’s say your field is event planning, simply type event planning in the search bar. As you begin typing a menu will drop down, select Groups about Event Planning (see images below). You will then get a full list of Event Planning Groups on LinkedIn. In this case, that’s 569 groups to be exact!
If your employer is held back from joining a professional organization because of membership costs, you can find free organizations on LinkedIn. There are groups of employees like you, trying to gain knowledge with in their field, network and learn/share best practices.
Helpful Tip: Some professional organizations have membership fees. Ask questions and do your research! Your employer, union, or human resources department may have professional development funds that can assist with paying for group or individual membership costs.