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In Her Own Words How to build or preserve a leadership-ready reputation

  • Published Thursday, May 15, 2014, at 12 a.m.

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Aiming for higher management in the workplace is a lot like running for political office. Your past and current behaviors will be dissected.

If you want to move up the ladder, you need to know that skeletons in your closet may be discovered. If that prospect is particularly uncomfortable, you may want to save the heartache and adjust your ambition.

Confident you’re skeleton free or can overcome an unsavory past?

Then heed leadership performance experts Antoine Gerschel and Lawrence Polsky: Don’t be “blackmailable.” Henceforth, be moral and legal in your business and personal life.

The two partners at PeopleNRG.com suggest three more prime tactics to preserve or create a leadership-ready reputation. One, succinctly summarized, is “shut up and do something.”

In other words, do more than expected in your current job. Candidates for promotion don’t just perform well in the jobs they have. They take on bigger projects, and they don’t wait to be asked. They offer.

Third, Gerschel and Polsky say, corporate history shows that people who reach the executive suite are likely to have accepted every challenge presented. For some, that’s meant accepting an overseas assignment, a move or a job change that didn’t really fit their personal pleasure. But they did it for the team.

Their fourth big piece of advice is to think and speak in terms of “we,” not “me.”

You’re more likely to be recognized as leadership material if others see you as a team player. It helps when you’re known as someone who adopts, and even cheers for, whatever the current corporate priorities are.

In every workplace you’re likely to find people who reached the top without any of the above credentials. Some people are excellent at selling themselves. But they usually have trouble building fans and followers. Don’t count on following their lead. It’s easier the other way.

Diane Stafford is a business and workplace writer for the Kansas City Star. Reach her at stafford@kcstar.com.

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