Occasionally, I am asked about what it takes to get ahead. The questions come in different forms – how can I get more visibility? How can I get to the next level? Ultimately, the focus is on power, position and wealth.
If you focus on power, position and wealth for their own sake, you may very well get them. What you need to become – the kind of person you would need to be – well, good luck with that.
Instead, I encourage people to focus on customers, colleagues and value. Because if you focus on those, the power, position and wealth will come. In a successful and sustainable way.
An example of this concept in practice is sales. We’ve all met sales people out for the sale. It’s like we need a bath when we’re done interacting with them. When we meet a sales person that is focused on us as the customer, it doesn’t feel like a big push. We are more likely to give them the sale because we’re the focus, not the money.
How can we focus on customers, colleagues and value?
- Customers – Instead of following a script, consider the interaction from the customer’s perspective. What do they need? What would delight them? What would make their lives easier? These questions lead to delivering amazing results and innovative solutions.
- Colleagues – That great improvement idea you have? How might it be used across the team? If there’s someone struggling, or a new addition to the team, can you help them improve or assimilate? These interactions demonstrate leadership. If you aspire to managing your peers, it also sets a solid foundation for that future role.
- Value – Regardless of your role, you can always focus on delivering value. Whether it’s making things easier for your manager, customers, colleagues, or your own work. Is there a faster or more cost effective way to do this work? Can quality be improved? Delivering high quality, faster and/or cheaper, frees capacity for new and more challenging assignments.
The next time someone asks you (or you’re wondering) how to get ahead, look around for ways to make things better or deliver more value. Opportunities abound. You just need to look for them.