Does your boss view you as someone clearly marked for advancement, or just another face in the crowd? While there may not be any certain way of determining the answer to that, the odds say that if you have been identified as high potential material, you demonstrate most of the following traits in your day-to-day performance.
You look for solutions. Tomorrow's leaders don't come to the boss today only with problems and rely on him or her for the answers. They arrive armed with at least one or two ideas of their own.
You possess knowledge. Potential leaders don't talk off the top of their heads. They are fact conscious and loath to speak until they have gathered substantial information.
You demonstrate "finishiative." There is nothing easier than starting a project. Seeing it through to the end is what separates the adults from the children. The subordinate who is talented and productive finishes every job he or she undertakes.
You are rattle-proof. The only certainty in business is uncertainty. The individual who can take setbacks as well as frustration in stride and not lose sight of the ultimate objective in the process is a person to keep an eye on—destined to go places.
You don't lose sight of your deadlines. The person on the way up in an organization concentrates on the work at hand, but is always conscious of some sort of deadline, imposed from within or without. He or she meets target dates, can pretty accurately estimate how long a job will take, and keeps his or her superior informed as to progress.
You are communicative. Finally, the person being considered for advancement can use the English language with clarity and precision. Reports—oral and written—are not padded, but get immediately to the heart of the matter. His or her letters say what he or she wants them to say—no more . . . and no less.
Being human, managers are often afraid of someone or something: their bosses, their peers, their people, error, failure. Think you're immune? Check yourself out with this brief quiz:
- Am I indecisive because I'm afraid of being wrong?
- Was I actually afraid of something the last time I blew my top?
- Am I reluctant to delegate because I fear the risks involved?
- Do I avoid contact with superiors because I'm in awe of them?
- Do I anticipate failure before I start a project?
- Am I in the habit of underestimating my successes?
- Am I tense in some situations (or in the presence of certain people) when I really shouldn't be?
- Do I feel unworthy in the face of praise?
- Do I secretly fear losing my job?
- When I'm disorganized, is it really because I'm afraid to get going on some project?
If any of these seems familiar, face your fear and try to understand in concrete terms what you fear—be it loss of face, a dressing down, exposure of your ignorance, whatever. Then separate the rational fears from the irrational. Once you have your rational fears out in the open, you can take steps toward eliminating them by taking action.
If, for example, you fear that one of your people may be letting you down on some job, make inquiries to see if you can help him or her. In short, there is almost always something specific you can do to eliminate the cause of your fear. And if, upon analysis, you find that there isn't, then what's the point in worrying over something that is beyond your control?
Time Management Tips
- Put your goals in writing. Then set your priorities. Make sure you're getting what you really want out of life.
- Focus on objectives, not on activities. Your most important activities are those that help you accomplish your objectives.
- Set at least one important objective daily and achieve it.
- Question all of your activities. If they do not contribute to the realization of your goals, eliminate—or at least modify—them.
- Get rid of at least one time-waster from your life each month.
- Make a to-do list every day. Be sure it includes your daily objectives, priorities, and time estimates, not just random activities.
- Schedule your time every day to make sure you accomplish the most important things first, but leave room for the unexpected, including interruptions.
- Make sure that the first hour of your workday is productive.
- Set time limits for every task you undertake.
- Take the time and make the effort to do things right the first time, and you won't have to waste time doing them over.
- Block out an hour a day of uninterrupted time for your most important chores.
- Get the habit of finishing what you start. Don't jump from one thing to another, leaving a string of unfinished chores behind you.
- Conquer procrastination. Whatever the job, do it now and get it out of the way.
- Don't spend your time on less important things when you could be spending it on more important things.
- Take time for yourself—time to dream, to relax, to live.