Working Hard & Working Smart: Traits of the Ladder Climbers | Curvature
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Working Hard & Working Smart: Traits of the Corporate Ladder Climbers

With 2014 nearing its end, we tend to reflect upon what the past year has done for our career. We analyze the ups and downs, make assessments of our own performances, and set goals for the future. Many employees will strive to spend the next year reaching for higher rungs on the corporate ladder.

I’ve witnessed a few meteoric rises up the corporate ladder in my career in HR, and have done a little of my own climbing as well. I don’t think that there is any one set path that people must follow in order to get ahead, but in general I have found that most executives and people with decision-making ability over your career generally look for the following kind of employees:

  • People who make things happen. One of the earliest signs of leadership potential is someone who shows up, figures out what’s going on, and then makes a plan and gets everyone working to make it happen. Accomplish that, and you’ve got a bright future ahead of you.
  • Courageous risk takers. We only achieve by taking risks. We learn by trial and error, and we grow from experience. We gain confidence from success and wisdom from failure. It takes courage to face your fear and dive in headfirst without knowing what lurks below.
  • Employees that get things done. Should you work hard or work smart? It’s not a conundrum. You have to work hard and work smart if you want to get anywhere in this world. And even more important is whether you can overcome obstacles, persevere, and actually accomplish what you set out to do.
  • Innovators. An innovator is someone that identifies real-world problems and somehow manages to find great solutions that people can actually use.
  • Those who speak their mind, tell it like it is, and do the right thing, even when that’s unpopular or the consequences unpleasant. If your management doesn’t value that, and instead values people that protect the status quo and tell them what they want to hear, then it’s time to look for a better employer.
  • Team players who are driven to win. Effective leaders aren’t either iconic mavericks or team players. They’re usually both. Of course you have to be driven to lead your own team to victory, but no matter how high you climb up the corporate ladder, you will always be part of a management team. You will always have stakeholders.
  • People that hold themselves and others accountable. Taking responsibility for your actions and expecting the same from others is perhaps the most powerful predictor of long­term success.

Tobak, S. (2014, July 28). Want to Climb the Corporate Ladder? Ignore 99% of Career Advice.


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