By Susan Brandeis
To the young professionals starting out, don’t let the length of your resume get in the way of opportunities to lead. I wish I realized this ten years ago.
From intern to full-time employee, I was working my way up at a top financial planning firm. Surrounded by advisors with decades of experience, I absorbed all the insight, wisdom, and knowledge they had to offer. But when it came to sharing my ideas and suggestions, I often held back.
Rather than risk looking green and inexperienced, I decided to wait until I was higher on the totem pole. Looking back now, all I see are the missed opportunities for growth and making a positive impact on my company.
We’ve been conditioned to think leadership is only attained by a position of power, or that it’s a skill you must be born with. The truth is, leadership skills can be honed and developed. Real leadership starts with a commitment to creating positive change for you and others.
These steps are a good start to shaping your leadership muscles early in your career:
Seek Feedback And Embrace Criticism
The best leaders are self-aware, mindful of both their strengths and weaknesses. They make a conscious effort to understand their blind spots and address them. Try and get comfortable doing this early in your career, checking in regularly with your manager for feedback.
Ask them specific questions and commit to taking actionable steps to tackle your shortfalls. It’s natural to take criticism and setbacks personally, but the real change happens when you face them head-on.
Be A Master Communicator
Knowing how to communicate effectively is at the core of leadership. Far more than just talking, good communication builds connection and trust within your team. It means being able to express your ideas with confidence and clarity.
Learn how to listen with intent, empowering those around you feel valued and heard.
Innovation is essential to a company’s survival. If you want to be a leader in the workplace look no further than your imagination, pushing the envelope with creative ideas to improve your company’s bottom line.
Starting a new job or being young in your career gives you a fresh eye, the ability to see what others do not.
Take On More Responsibility
Once you’ve contributed innovative ideas and developed your communication and delegation skills, you’re ready to level up your game. You’ve already got your team working at maximum efficiency, so you’ll have some time to learn new things and take on more responsibility.
At this point, management is sure to have noticed your hard work and dedication, so don’t be afraid to ask for what you want. The sky’s the limit once you’re consistently practicing how to be a leader at work.
If you’re committed to adding ‘leader’ to your resume, know it’s never too early, or late, to start developing the skills needed to lead confidently and effectively.
Susan Brandeis, CFP ® is Chief Financial Planning Officer at Pure Financial Advisors, a fee-only RIA, in San Diego. Susan graduated from San Diego State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Financial Services. Susan serves as the President of the Financial Planning Association (FPA) NexGen of San Diego and as the Organization Director on the FPA NexGen National Executive Committee. Susan is passionate about ensuring the next generation of financial planners have the resources they need to excel in this career and continue to develop their skills.
FPA NexGen, a community of the Financial Planning Association® (FPA®), aims to provide support and collaboration for those professionals new to the financial planning profession. With more than 2,500 like-minded young professionals, members of FPA NexGen are ready to share their experiences and further the future of the financial planning profession. Learn more about our engaged community and join the conversation on Twitter.
Here are past NexGen columns: