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  • Ryan Smith

How to Stop Thinking Like an Employee

If you’re working in a managerial, leadership or entrepreneurial role - are you thinking like an employee or not?

There is a natural difference between employees and employers.

This difference is called "perception".

For the most part, employees see their work as a way to pay the rent or bills or fund their short-term lifestyle. Whereas employers see their business as an opportunity to grow - both professionally and personally.

And this is probably why many employees will retain their position, as opposed to starting their own business.

The difference in perception and goals is just that powerful. But it does not have to be.

If you want to be a leader at some point, and manifest your own successful reality, it is critical that you start thinking like a leader. It’s not enough to have a great idea, you have to match it with execution.

Here’s how you do it.

1. Don’t see your role as being part of a job

Even if the business you work in is not your own, you are part of its success or failure.

By prioritising the overall success of the business, you are establishing yourself as a key individual. The moment you approach your work with a passion that matches your employer, he or she is going to notice.

This results in better work opportunities for you. Not to mention, you get to develop towards the leadership role you are focused on.

The opposite is true. According to Forbes, uninspiring leaders actually damage business outcomes. So it’s vital to see your role holistically and grow into a leader that inspires others.

2. Start sharing experience and knowledge

There are two main benefits that come with sharing your knowledge and experience with other employees.

Firstly, it helps you to practice leadership skills, such as clear communication, patience, and intuition.

The second benefit is that you might learn something new in the process. While protecting your trade secrets at work might seem like the safe thing to do, it will not help you change your perspective.

A leader cannot afford to be selfish with their knowledge and experience.

This is a strategy used by the PPC Management team at Search It Local who conduct regular skill share meetups. They explain “working with a team can be a double edged sword when team members feel it is more valuable to protect their skill set to stand out. We combat this with weekly catch ups where we share our learnings from the week gone, and stay proactive in sharing knowledge, rather than hoarding it. This is the groundwork for effective leaders of the future.”

3. See everything as a healthy challenge

Stagnation is one of the biggest problems in the workplace.

When employees start to feel safe and comfortable in their routine, they become too scared to explore other responsibilities. Even if something changes in the system, it makes them panic.

Whatever you do, do not stagnate in your position. This means accepting change and taking on challenges whenever they surface. Instead of being the sacred and safe employee, take risks and get out of your comfort zone.

4. Practice vision

Leaders do not reach success by making executive decisions on a whim.

And while executive decisions need to be made, it has to be done with vision. More specifically, think about the consequences of the decision and how it will influence the business down the road. This is especially important for those launching startups.

But do not just make choices at the last minute without thinking it through.

5. Invest in yourself

Your success depends solely on you.

You have to decide whether you are going to lead when the time is right, or if you stay an employee until you go on pension. And if you choose the former, then invest in yourself by taking courses.

Learn as much as you can and keep developing your skills. Eventually, the right opportunity will arise at the right time. Then you will be ready to take it with both hands.

6. Get rid of distractions

Small things like constantly checking your email and answering every call can be anti-productive.

It interrupts your concentration, and it stops you from getting ahead. So, start going to work more organised. Limit the time for emails and calls, and pay more attention to what really needs to happen to help you find the right customers for your products.

7. Be modest but effective

There is no need for you to stop everyone and tell them about your accomplishments.

According to professional career coaches though, it is also important to take some degree of credit for your initiative. They explain “when you don’t put your hand up to take ownership of your success, someone else takes the credit on your behalf. One suggestion is to approach management in private, and discreetly explain your contribution to the business where required.”

It is important to find the line between not claiming enough and claiming too much.

8. Avoid office politics

Do not involve yourself with office politics.

It is simply not worth the effort and trouble. Instead, try to stay focused on honing your skills and building an honest reputation. Even if this means being singled out by all the other employees. Because the fact is you are different.

You want to get into a leadership position, and they want to retain the safety of being an employee.

Ryan Smith is an Australian writer and uni student living in Melbourne. As a Business Management major, Ryan is passionate about business revenues. He also has a love for pets, he regularly takes his pet dog for a walk in the park.

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