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Dear Alex,

I'm stagnant at work and don't know how to advance. I've done well in my position and now I want to move out of the subordinate role and be seen more as a leader, and position myself for career growth. What I'm stuck on is getting out of the role of "helper" since that's what I have always done. Where do I start?

~ Helper Monkey | April 28, 2022

Dear Helper Monkey,

This is a prevalent question. I think sometimes we assume the role of the do-er rather than the leader to fit in and be liked. It's a great way to receive praise and affirmation, as well as avoid conflict. Unfortunately this do-er mentality becomes a detriment to our ability to be seen as a leader. Here are some ways to make changes on your path towards leadership.

Practice Self-Awareness and Ask for Help – Have you ever been told you are too valuable in your current role to be moved? Being overly busy or willing to take on more than you are able to complete is not a sign of a great worker— it is a roadblock to future opportunities. Become aware of how you manage your time and workload. If you've got too much on your plate, you are performing in a reactive mode, with no room to think big or see beyond your giant task list. Bring a plan for streamlining to your manager, let them see your time management skills and how you can solve higher level problems.

Coach Others – A great leader is one that empowers others, which often includes coaching others and teaching new skill sets. One of my favorite ways to do this is to teach someone else your job. This may sound counterintuitive, but if someone else knows how to do your work, it makes promoting you to the next position easier for your employer. Letting go can feel uncomfortable, but there is power in delegation. Open your time and mind to working in your strengths and producing more valuable outputs that are unique to your skill set and way of thinking.

Speak Confidently, and Speak Up! – Time to remove "I'm sorry", "this might be silly but", and "I just thought I would" from your vocabulary. Being more direct and confident when sharing will better represent the value you bring to the table. Don't hold back when you have a new idea — even the worst ideas can inspire something great! This is also the time to speak with your manager and let them know your intentions. Review the organization structure and know where you want to grow. If there are open positions within your organization, how can you apply? Be prepared, this process may require you speaking to the next manager above yours.

Explore Your Options - You may want to look for a role outside your current company that is more closely aligned with your future goals. To begin, practice interview skills and revamp your resume with the help of a mentor or coach. When interviewing, relax and enjoy, and feel free to take the lead and guide the
conversation. Display your leadership skills and ask for more - more money, more responsibility, more recognition and more of what you want. Negotiation is expected at higher levels in the hiring process. Do not be afraid to ask for something that seems too big, you might be surprised with a positive counter offer, and you will enjoy the opportunity to continue growing!