The Secret To Moving On Up At Your Organization

I’ve been thinking lately about how one really moves up inside an organization. 

Many might think it’s about performance or schmoozing.  The former is hard, because not everyone gets an opportunity to produce measureable results.  The latter isn’t really true, except for those rare situations where the leadership cares more about being popular than organizational success. 

Recently, I discovered for myself the best three steps.  They account for my rise at, then later again at Yahoo.  Recently, a good friend of mine (in his 20’s) was leaving for his first corporate conference.  He was excited about the trip, the food, the chance to socialize and all the parties likely to happen.  Why not? 

I gave him this advice: Leverage the conference to move up in your organization.  Many will have your POV, and goof off publicly there or worse.  Let them eat cake and guzzle beer while you move up.  He asked me, “what then should I do?”  The advice I gave him is the same advice I’d give anyone, whether you are just starting out at a company or participating in a training program/conference. 

1. Learn – Open your ears and eyes to take in all the data, stories and advice you can. Attend everything you can, take notes like an A student, and ask questions until you ‘get it’.  Do your homework and then do some extra credit work on your break.  

2. Demonstrate Learning – For many leaders, this is how they spot real team players.  It’s one thing to know-it-all, it’s another to put it into practice.  Find ways to apply your learning in real-world situations, and don’t be afraid to take your mentor with you on your journey or report the results to them later.  

3. Lead Others To Learn – As you succeed with your new found learning, leverage your success to convince others to become students and not just workers.  Challenge them from your position of strength to give more of their mind to grow.  Offer to mentor those who are struggling and reward their attention with praise (and more time).  Offer to teach a class or gather students for one. Nothing encourages your leadership more than this behavior, as it’s the way to creating organizational bench strength.