11 Ways to Rise from Front-line to Top Leadership
Ron Wallace began his career at UPS as a driver and ended it as President of UPS International.
I asked Ron how a person rises from driver to President.
11 ways to rise from front-line to top leadership:
#1. Work for a company that promotes from within. Did top leadership at your organization come from within or without?
#2. Outwork everyone. Have an, “… insane commitment to the job.”
#3. Take advantage of opportunities. You never earn your way to the top by doing the same thing over and over.
5 marks of an opportunity:
- Expect to add value before receiving value.
- Make others look good.
- Is it something you haven’t done before?
- Is there the potential of good return on your effort? Don’t waste your energy on insignificant issues.
- Is your contribution visible? In organizational life, if others don’t know what you do, what you do doesn’t matter.
- Don’t seek the spotlight.
- Don’t work to be seen.
- Don’t grab credit.
- Seek to make a positive difference.
There will be times when the good you do is overlooked. Never complain. Keep doing good. Generosity, not stinginess, takes you far.
#5. Take on tough assignments. Go where others have failed. Imperfect situations grow your leadership.
- Fix what’s broken.
- See and solve problems. You’ll never rise to top leadership in growing organizations by ignoring tough issues.
- Make life better for customers.
#6. Be willing to relocate.
#7. Have a good mentor.
#9. Pay attention to what’s going on around you. Listen.
Keep your mouth shut until you’ve taken on responsibility and delivered great results.
When you open your mouth, open it to volunteer for a tough assignment. Losers open their mouths to explain what others should do. Leaders open their mouths to take on responsibility.
#10. Develop people skills.
#11. Be accountable. Get comfortable being held accountable, if you want to get ahead.
Ron in his own words (2:41):
How might people rise from the front-line to top leadership?
*This list is adapted and expanded from my conversation with Ron Wallace.
If having an insane commitment to the job is the price for leadership, is leadership worth it? Great leaders can and model balance between the job and the rest of their lives.
Thanks David. Some depends on the organization. But, in the end, it’s the one who works the hardest and brings the most value who earns the most opportunities.
You must be willing to do what others won’t do in order to advance–my entire career has been built on simply saying yes when others say no.
So much good stuff in here.
Thanks John. I thought Ron packed a few sentences with incredible content.
The information shared here reminds so much of content from the book “Three Feet From Gold.” I think I will re-read it for new insight! Thanks Dan! And thank you the knowledge you shared last year and this year at my church’s 212 Conference!!! Always a pleaure to hear you speak and absorb the wisdom you share!
Courage. The courage to know that you will have setbacks and obstacles to overcome. the courage to know you can’t do it alone; you will need help. The courage to realize you don’t know it all and leadership is all about life long learning. Listen more and talk less. Actions speaks louder than words. Lead by example!
While this is a good article, I have a problem with #9. In particular, “Losers open their mouths to explain what others should do.” What if the audience has never known how to solve an issue together before? (This is the audience and group I face daily.) Would that make the speaker more of a “teacher” rather than a “loser” you describe? How would you solve this issue of people not knowing what to do without them thinking and expecting me to Do It For Them? As you once noted, “Do It For Me” prevents people from learning, and thus growing.
Very well said! Lucky for me all my employers have promoted from with in the corporation and I have seen the value with this method, has worked well for us.
I’m sure there are places where this has not worked too, due to conflicts with in as well from outside! Hard work does pay off!
I would like to add one caution: Know and avoid the company’s “black hole.” The black hole is the department or team or assignment that is largely, possibly completely, detached from the true values and mission of the company. For the company that is concerned only with profit with no concern for customer loyalty, this might be the call center. To an internet company like Google, it might be the building maintenance staff. Whatever it is, it will receive no consideration for future advancements and precious little in the way of budgetary or emotional support. It is where people go to become invisible to the rest of the company. With rare exception, the only way out of the black hole is to leave the company altogether, and if you wait too long, your resume will become so weak as to make even this move nearly impossible. And, the surest way to make either impossible is to express passion for the work being done in the black hole.
This list may be fine in the corporate world where money is often an objective standard of success. In the public realm however success often may be more of a matter of perception and image than it is to actual performance. In the public sector success is often declared despite objective evidence to the contrary. Desired outcomes are sometimes completely contradictory depending on the political objectives of the parties involved. The concepts presented therefore should be reconsidered if one is employed in a public rather than private organization.
What’s if saying YES ends up getting you victimised? In Nigeria everyone wants to save his job by concentrating on what he knows how to do best. The problem is you get victimised for when you don’t get it right. So I think for us here we wait patiently until the organisation feels you are best fit. So much internal politics.
Dan I like the article but I do take a breath on your issue with the relocation point. I find that this is often noted as a way to get ahead, yet in many organizations this is skewed to put a bias on women. I myself said no to relocation ( before I had children) and sold the company on my strengths. I was able to still get better roles . I think it can be done, regardless of gender, if you can sell yourself and prove yourself, as you note on other points. You point on people skills is turn; I spend a LOT of time as an HR professional who as an operations manager advising leaders on how to deal with people – I love it yet I find it is not ‘common sense’ for all.
In Italy this stuff doesn’t work. Robert Greene “The 48 Laws of Power” is the master of rising to top in latin cultures.
Thanks Mario. I’m glad you brought your perspective to this topic.
Love the article… I think performing like its your personal business will also help.. thank you
1. Who are the others? Significant people.
strategies to let them know each time you do omething extra?
you should be good at talking about what you have done and putting it in front of the right people at the right time and most important right manner. It all trickles to interpersonal relationship dynamics and strong and effective communication skills and being proactive about communicating your achievements at work to orhers.
It is much more about networking . People form one single opinion about anyones work after observing them for say 2-3 -4-6 months . That one opinion good mediocre or bad rules. Nothing much changes after that. Working styles hardly undergo a paradigm shift. After a time everyone knows about everyone without much research.