• PTP Chicago

Three Leadership Skills That Can Get You Promoted

Updated: Sep 28, 2020

In today’s hyper-competitive business world, the best form of capital is human capital. Businesses are made up of groups of individuals that come together in pursuit of common goals. The stark reality, however, is that employees don’t automatically come together to achieve these goals.

It requires leadership.

Poor leadership can be toxic, resulting in missed opportunities and frustrated employees. By contrast, great leadership not only helps a team hit its numbers, but it goes a long way in raising employee morale. There are also personal incentives for developing strong leadership skills.

“Your technical skills will get you in the door, but your communication skills will get you promoted,” says John Fisher, the former CIO and current founder of RethinkingIT.

Yet while nearly everyone would agree that leadership is important, how to become a great leader is much less certain. Recently, Peterson Technology Partners spoke with three individuals who exemplify outstanding leadership skills in their careers. While great leaders have many invaluable traits, there are three that stand out. By incorporating these leadership qualities into our lives, we can substantially increase our chances of becoming instrumental leaders—regardless of our sector or role at our companies.

1. The Ability to Build Relationships

Relationships are at the heart of any successful business. While the average employee keeps their head down and works hard on their responsibilities, there is often the missed opportunity to build strong coworker relationships that require deliberate intention. Leaders actively work to build those relationships.

The key to actively building relationships is empathy. Great leaders can stand in the shoes of your colleagues (both above and below you in the corporate pecking order) and offer value.

Mark Griesbaum, the former CIO/COO and Managing Director at Affinity4U, believes that this ability to create strong, trustworthy relationships is what makes a true leader.

“You have to build relationships with folks. You have to understand what’s important to them and their business. They have to trust you, you have to build integrity, you have to be honest,” he said.

Truthfully, much of it comes down to treating your colleagues like real people. Leadership is understanding what makes people tick and creating a community that is built on trust. Doing this, you’ll find that your colleagues are more motivated, relaxed, and ready to accomplish your business goals. Even if you are an entry-level employee or are making a career change at 35, working on your emotional intelligence and becoming more empathetic will make you a better leader.

2. The Willingness to Take the Initiative

Strong leadership is also about taking the initiative. It is the metaphorical act of standing on the front lines as comrades taking on the enemy together.

Better yet, you don’t need to be the CEO or president of your organization to take the initiative. You can become an intrapreneur like Eric Lannert, the CTO at Cloudbakers. In his mid to late-20s, he was able to take on a significant amount of responsibility by taking the initiative on a small project.

“What was really exciting that I hadn’t anticipated was, because I was in a brand new group, I was technically an ‘Intrapreneur’... someone working in a startup within a larger company. So we were figuring everything out as we went. At 27, I was flying to Japan to do sales pitches to CEOs.”

As Fisher said, making even some progress in jobs that no one wants to take is a great way to become a leader.

“Take the jobs that nobody wants. Take on the problems... you only have to get slight improvement to be a hero in that.”

Whether you are career cruising or just started work at a new company, taking the lead on a project—no matter how small—represents the work of a true leader. Even if you don’t think people are watching, you can rest assured that they most certainly are. Moreover, taking the initiative creates value for your organization, which will be welcomed by your superiors.

3. Decisiveness in Both Small and Large Decisions

Finally, to become a leader in your professional career, you’ll want to be decisive.

As Griesbaum said, “You have to learn to be uncomfortable.”

The unfortunate reality is that you’ll never have all of the information that you need to make a decision. It can’t slow you down. All too often, making a quick decision with 70 or 80% of the required information is better than making a slow decision with 99% of the information. It’s even true if you are searching for new jobs in security or are thinking about how to make a career change.

In the end, mistakes can be repaired. Indecisiveness and passivity, however, cannot. Keep this in mind—no matter where you are in your career.

Strong Leadership is a Practice

Stellar leaders like Fisher, Griesbaum, and Lannert exemplify the traits listed in this post. Nonetheless, they also recognize that these leadership qualities aren’t necessarily permanent. In other words, they understand that leadership is a practice. There is no finish line or endpoint.

While this reality may be daunting, the is the fact that anyone can become a great leader—so long as they are willing to work at it.

It may be intimidating to speak up or take a leadership position at work, recognize that it is a natural part of becoming a strong leader. Yes, you will experience some failures or pushback. It is inevitable. However, by sticking with it and viewing strong leadership as a practice, you will become the leader that you always aspired to be.

Join Eric, John, Mark, and Tulika for the premiere of

episode 3 on Tuesday, June 23rd

Careers and Conversations:

Journey to the C-Suite

Part 1

About the Company:

Peterson Technology Partners (PTP) has been Chicago's premier Information Technology (IT) staffing, consulting, and recruiting firm for over 22+ years. Named after Chicago's historic Peterson Avenue, PTP has built its reputation by developing lasting relationships, leading digital transformation, and inspiring technical innovation throughout Chicagoland.

Based in Park Ridge, IL, PTP's 250+ employees have a narrow focus on a single market (Chicago) and expertise in 4 innovative technical areas;

  • Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning/Data Science

  • Robotics/Robotic Process Automation (RPA)

  • Cyber/Data/Information Security

  • DevOps/DevSecOps

PTP exists to ensure that all of our partners (clients and candidates alike) make the best hiring and career decisions.

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