How to Become the Boss at Work

A man holding smartphone and smiling

The boss checking his phone | Source: iStock

Most people hope to succeed in their careers, but success can mean something different for each person. For some people, career success is about financial stability or loving their job. For others, it’s about becoming a boss, or making it to the top of the work chain. In order to be successful at life, you will need an attitude that includes a feeling of gratitude, perseverance, and humility. However, if you define success as becoming the boss of your team, department, or company, you will need different skills than you will to simply be the top level analyst at your job. Leadership positions require different skills than other positions because they involve giving direction, managing others, and being responsible for the work of other people. If you are interested in being a boss, here’s how to start moving your career toward that goal.

1. Take on supervisory roles

It takes time to get to the top (unless possibly if you open your own company). If you want to be the boss, you will need to prove you can do it. Usually this takes several steps. If you want to eventually lead your own team, area, or department, you will first need to show that you can handle managing smaller areas. If you have no supervisory experience, you can start by job-shadowing, speaking to your boss about your interests, or applying for a developmental opportunity for a different position (if your company has one available that allows you to explore the position you want).

If you want to be a manager, you probably need to be a supervisor first; if you want to be a director, you will probably need to be a manager and a supervisor first, so it’s important to start taking on supervisory roles as early as possible.

2. Hone your leadership skills

In addition to taking on supervisory roles, it’s important to improve your leadership skills. You may need to do this before you take on a supervisory role, but even if you start a supervisor position first, it’s still important to work on your leadership skills. According to Right Management, some tips include interviewing managers to learn how to become a better leader, motivating others, treating others with respect, improving your communication skills, and being loyal, confident, and committed.

You can start implementing any of these leadership building activities at any time; good leaders make good bosses, and improving your leadership skills will improve your resume, and also help you to be a better boss down the line.

3. Network

You might feel like you never stop hearing about the importance of networking, but it is a crucial step in becoming a boss. Networking is important because while you may stay at the same company for your entire career and simply move up the ladder, there’s a good chance that you will apply for a management position at a different company at some point if you want to be a boss. Networking can help you to meet new people who may tell you when a position comes up, or may be able to throw your name into the mix too.

Networking can also help improve your qualifications for different jobs. Conferences are a great place to network, but attending conferences (and also presenting) is also a great way to improve your presentation, research, and teaching skills, and to show interest in your field. Also consider digital networking; you don’t necessarily need to meet someone in person to learn from and help each other.

4. Think like a boss

There are many bosses in the world, and some of them are more popular than others. To truly succeed as a boss, you will need to be effective so that employees working under you can trust you, learn from you, and approach you with genuine issues.

According to Monster, a great boss will set effective expectations, coach others, recognize effort, give feedback, be inclusive, get to know employees, find individual talent, be open and honest, and be able to try new things. In addition, leaders often learn to be leaders (learned instead of made). You may have to wait a while to practice some of these things, but you can certainly recognize effort, be inclusive, get to know your co-workers (in an appropriate way), be open and honest, and try new things.

Becoming a boss isn’t just about luck or power. Becoming a boss takes networking, experience, and the right skills and attitude.

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