One of the most exciting things about being a young professional today is the range of career opportunities that are becoming available. Over the past couple of decades, new technology has driven the development of new business models, new industries, and new career paths. Also, millions of baby boomers are retiring every year, leaving countless leadership positions open for the taking!
Despite all of this, career starts can still be pretty rocky for young leaders. Many junior roles don’t offer opportunities for young professionals to contribute in a strategic capacity, often due to a combination of the size of the company and nature of the role.
Going above and beyond to have a strategic impact in a junior role is very difficult, but is one of the best ways to accelerate your career, sharpen your skill set, and get visibility with senior leadership. Here are three ways you can start being more strategic today:
1. Invest in your network
It’s difficult to be strategic if you don’t know what’s going on throughout the business, and one of the main things that people in junior roles lack is information. Setting aside time to build relationships with people in different areas of the business is one of the best ways to get a feel for what’s actually going on in your organization.
This goes far beyond getting in front of senior leadership, however. Having open lines of communication with front-line staff and employees in other departments provides you with perspectives and information that will likely be of value to someone you work with.
2. Be a continuous source of new ideas
As a young leader, you are in the unique position of being able to bring new thinking to the table at your organization. However, the changes you propose might not always be feasible due to budget, politics, and/or pre-existing initiatives.
Don't get discouraged in these situations! If one of your ideas isn’t received well, make sure you get feedback on both your idea and your approach: often, young leaders will propose ideas at inopportune or inappropriate times, which will sink the proposal instantly.
3. Seek out honest feedback
It’s easy to get caught up in your day-to-day responsibilities and forget to set some time aside to develop a better sense of what you have to offer, how you fit into the bigger picture, and what you need to work on.
In order to build increased self-awareness, we recommend that you seek out answers to questions like these from time to time:
- Where can I contribute the most, based on my current strengths & abilities?
- What gaps do I need to fill in order to operate more effectively?
- What personal effectiveness habits could I be developing to support continued growth?
Your supervisor will have answers for you, of course, but feedback from less obvious sources (your team, people from other departments, and so on) can be just as valuable.