How Do You Get Ahead at Work?

How Do You Get Ahead At Work


Today, instead of sharing ideas with you, I’m asking for you to share ideas with me.  This weekend my radio show is on a very practical topic:  What REALLY helps people get ahead at work?

As I scoured Amazon for popular and reliable books on the topic I was shocked to find . . . none.  So, with a little crowd-sourcing, we can learn quickly.

By answering a quick survey, you’ll immediately see the accumulating data, help me engage my listeners, and provide data to your fellow Reading for Leading readers.  This survey has just 4 multiple choice questions, and a quick demographic one.  It’ll just take a couple minutes.

Feel free to share your comments on this question on my blog – before or after you take the survey.

Thanks in advance for helping us all to think about how you get into a position of greater authority; so as from there, to

Lead with your best self!

  • Without a degree I don’t seem to be able to go anywhere. It doesn’t matter that I’m competent, or that a lot of sucessful people didn’t have degrees..or that a lot of stupid people have degrees..It seems to be the most important thing to prospective employers.
    My advice to anyone seeking employment is to have a degree.

  • The question that was hardest to answer was the on on sucking up to management. This is a pejorative term, and there are times when going with what management wants may not be a matter of faking it, but a matter of disagreeing on a decision.

    I think the sucking up question out to be replaced with two questions:

    1. Do you think acting as if you like and enjoy working with people above you, when you do not is important? [of course if you must act as if you like them, why do you want to be promoted to their level to work directly with them? Sounds like it is time to move to another company/ organization]

    2. Do you think that following direction, even when you disagree with the decision of management is important? If you disagree with a decision is it important to say so and to say why? Is it better to not say you disagree?

  • The most important critical knowledge at getting ahead in life and work is self-knowledge.

    Getting to self awareness with the assistance of a support group, coach and/or mentor has great leverage in understanding how to change your behavior in order to get to where you want to be.

    The formula for success: The formula for both personal and corporate success = your human capital (what you know and can do) times your social capital (who you know and who knows you) times your reputation (who trusts you). The social capital that accrues from such “nonessential” parts of work turns out to be quite essential indeed.

  • Every time I’ve been promoted it’s been because I’ve done a good job in my present position and, more importantly, people enjoy working with me. I believe you can teach anyone to do almost any job but if they don’t have the social skills to keep people happy and focused then they won’t be much use to the company.

    Doing a good job and genuinely caring about the people you work with has always been more important to me than degrees and certificates.

    • I agree with Paul. Learning to work well with others in a team: respecting differences (there will always be strong opinions against your ideas); taking personal responsibility for mistakes; openness and acceptance of other team members and other qualities which stem from genuinely caring for other people (people have an instinct to spot a fake) and not only looking out for one’s interest will help you to get ahead because you contribute to making others productive (and not just yourself.)

      People who lack team skills not only make it hard for themselves to work effectively, but brings down the performance of others too.

      And I also agree with Pam that ‘most of us’ need a college degree (esp. if we have not launched a successful start-up or product or technology or have substantial work achievements)to gain the confidence of prospective employers.

  • Dan, this very topic has led me to persue a a MPA degree with a focus in nonprofit leadership. I have worked for a few great nonprofits with great coresponding leadership. However, great leaders do retire and in nonprofits the Board of directors often decide on the next pathway for the agency.

    I have seen these nonprofits become a little less focused on services and more confused by the lack of leadership and taken over by the poor use of politics to the detriment of the agency. It is sad to see that the right degree and the wrong person can ruin the reputation of the agency and force many great people to leave and loose confidence in the organization. It is sad to see that those who do “suck up” and constantly say yes to further their own career over the services the agency is supposed to provide to those in need.

    This topic is also why I am trying to lead with my everday performance. I do get recognized for my expertise and leadership from certain people who are not in charge, however sometimes everyday leaders intimidate the “bosses that be”. I’ll leave it at that.

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