If you’ve worked in an office, or any business with more than a few employees, you come across people who just seem to be destined for advancement. Yes, sometimes it is because they are good looking or have connections or went to the right schools or butter up the boss. However, those instances are far less common than you might think — and more often are just rationalizations that people tell themselves to feel better about being less qualified.
While it’s true that some people are better at some things than other people, the reality is that there are many ways to become a valuable employee. Some of those are natural abilities such as intelligence, a good memory (not the same thing as intelligence), being good with people, etc., but in our experience, even many of those innate talents can be learned — as can the single most important characteristic for career advancement: Leadership.
We all know people who seem to be born leaders: They stand out, seem to be self-confident, usually make sense — and people listen to them. Not everybody likes them, perhaps, but almost everybody respects them. Yet as effortless as many leaders make it seem, they almost always have to work at it on some level.
Being a leader doesn’t mean that you always have to lead the charge or even stand out, but it does mean that people have to respect you, look up to you and want to follow you. The people you work for can see that. If your goal is to have a job where you manage people, you’ll be a lot more successful if you learn to be a good leader.