Achieving boss status is no small feat. But if you have vision, swagger and insight in spades, then you may be a next-level boss — a superboss, suggests a recent article in the Harvard Business Review.
According to the HBR, superbosses are great leaders and innovative thinkers, but they also possess a superpower that puts them a notch above others: the ability to identify and groom talent. Superbosses excel at finding people to carry on their vision and legacy — think of creative superbosses like George Lucas or Lorne Michaels.
Early in your career, you're more likely to work for a superboss than you are to be one. So here are six tips for getting noticed by a superboss — and becoming a superstar yourself.
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Seize elevator moments
To stand out to a superboss, you want to capitalize on opportunities to “share ideas, resources, information and make connections,” says Pamela Slim, the author of “Escape From Cubicle Nation” and the CEO of Ganas Consulting. That requires going beyond your job description, and becoming familiar with what problems your boss and company are eager to solve, says Slim. Be direct and seize the moment — like when you run into your boss in the elevator.
Remember, it’s not about you
Superbosses tend to be very confident and competitive, so approaching one may be intimidating. But instead of thinking about what your boss will think of you, shift focus to the big picture, suggests Slim. “By taking initiative, you’re aware of your boss’ most pressing needs and priorities. I think the frame is important. It’s not just about impressing somebody, and it’s not about you. Showing that you’re smart and strategic is how you let people know that you’re interested.”
Be a good mentee
If a superboss takes you under his or her wing, make sure the relationship goes both ways. “When they [a superboss] give you advice, make note of it, and send a thank you card. But then more importantly, come back six months later, and say, ‘I wanted to let you know here’s what I did, and here are the results.’” The fact you listened to their advice will give them the satisfaction of making an impact, says Slim. Didn’t get the desired results? Reach out anyway. Superbosses know failure is part of the process.
Superbosses love the grind. They have fast-paced careers — and they expect you to fall in line. “When you sign up for something knowing what it takes, you need to deliver,” says Slim. But that doesn’t mean you have no limits. If you’re not setting boundaries, “that’s not demonstrating leadership,” says Slim. Saying no can be uncomfortable, but working with a boss who takes advantage isn’t worth burnout.
Consider yourself a “less experienced equal”
Remember, a superboss isn’t superhuman. You may be less experienced, but don’t demean yourself because you’ve been on Earth fewer years, says Slim. “That’s not standing in your power or and your authority,” adds the expert.