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Model great behavior now, not later

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in Leaders & Managers,Leadership Skills

Want to earn a big promotion? Start acting like you’ve already received it.

Jeff Lyons, a senior vice president at Costco Wholesale Corp., says that high achievers establish credibility from their very first day on the job. Even when starting out in support roles, they act as if they’re role models of enlightened leadership.

For example, they take reasonable breaks rather than skipping out for a few hours and hoping no one notices. Or they go out of their way to help a peer—even if it presents a slight inconvenience or a little extra work.

“What you are doing today impacts your career in the future,” Lyons says.

Ambitious newcomers should follow a two-step exercise. First, imagine it’s one year after you’ve accepted a promotion. Ask yourself, “Now that I’m in a leadership position, what style do I want to adopt? How do I want to lead?”

Second, start exhibiting the traits that you envision yourself showcasing a year from now when you’re in charge. Why wait?

By assuming leadership behaviors now, you enable your peers to view you as consistently reliable and worthy of respect. They will support your career ascent because they see your true character and integrity—and they will know what to expect as you rise up in rank.

“If you are one of those folks that took two-hour lunches when you were supposed to have one hour, and you then get promoted, then guess what—everyone that worked with you knows it,” Lyons says.

— Adapted from “How to Manage Former Peers,” Jo Miller, www.beleaderly.com.

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