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  • Writer's pictureJennifer

One of the quickest routes to leadership

There is, inevitably, a lot of grunt work involved in running the many pieces of complicated jobs (and lots of uncomplicated ones, too, actually, if we are being honest). I've done my fair share of scraping paint off of soccer stadiums, doing other people's laundry, sending Fed Exes, making copies and organizing files -- it is a part and parcel of being in the workplace.

Harvard Business Review recently posted a great article about helping your team manage the grunt work involved in their jobs, which is helpful in breaking down getting the work done from the perspective of a manager. One of the pieces mentioned in there is the importance of showing the team you manage that you, yourself, are willing and able to do a lot of the grunt work, too. Hey, most of us know that they higher up you go, the more tedious administrative work you get. (One exception I will note is that I do know someone who said, with all sincerity, "I am a manager so I can delegate. I don't do this shit." I will let you guess how respected he is in his industry or his office.)

Let's look at this from the other side of the equation, though. We all do administrative pieces to things, and we all have to balance the stuff that "goes on behind the scenes" or the stuff that no one understands about your process unless they have lived it with the actual front-line, job-title things. Your manager and other higher leadership know this, and, as I mentioned, they are doing it, too (though theirs might just look a little different).

What is one of the easiest ways to show them that you are promotion-worthy, trust-worthy, and maybe management material? A willingness to take on some more of the tedious stuff. Add some extra administrative stuff to your work load. Lean in to doing a bit more.

And not just that, but do it happily, with confidence, and knowing that you are adding value to your team -- because you are! And if you go at it with that attitude, your boss is probably going to be grateful for it! I have seen this happen more times than I can count -- where the willingness to do a bit more engenders greater trust and more power in your office, leading to a completely different shift in the workplace and more opportunities down the line (not to mention an additional line or two on your resume, which can be a make-or-break thing when looking to move up or out).

The flipside of this coin, though, is if you take on additional administrative things, don't be a grump about it. Your attitude about being given additional work or taking on additional work is one of the most telling things about how promotable you are to your boss, and you could be sinking in their esteem if you don't lean into the extra work and see it as an opportunity.

(Please note a caveat, though -- I say all this presuming that it is more work that you can do, that doesn't dramatically change the scope of your job in a way that requires HR to review the issue, and doesn't make your position overwhelming and isn't taking advantage of you. If you have a question about whether this might be those situations, don't be afraid to loop in your HR person and just ask them. Your HR person should be there to be your advocate and someone you can speak with comfortably.)

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