You have always followed the rules. You keep your head down, work hard, and hope your diligence pays off with a choice assignment or a promotion. And sometimes you would be satisfied with a "nice job" when your hard work makes a difference. That is what is supposed to happen, right?
But despite all your efforts, you are still not sure your CEO could pick you out in a crowd. And you are restless. You know you could shine, given the chance.
You simply want more.
Pay attention to that feeling -- that is ambition propelling you forward. In fact, we actually screen for ambition when we interview good people who are interested in joining the Aha! team. I want to work with people who want to make a difference and be celebrated for it.
So, it is time for some audacious moves to reinvent yourself. You want to erase every preconceived notion the CEO may have about you (or start creating an imprint). It may be time to be seen as a goal-driven achiever who is completely unforgettable. That transformation -- plus the revelation that you have been right there all along -- will completely blow your CEO's mind.
Here are six ways you can make that happen:
Your career goals should be secondary to whatever strategic goals your company hopes to achieve. CEOs have big dreams for their organization. Your task is to find out what those dreams are, align yourself to those goals, and then help to make them come true.
Think about what stands in the way of your company's success right now and in the near future. What keeps your executive team and CEO concerned? Is there a new competitor in the space nipping at the company's heels, or is there a shortage of qualified talent in your region? Consider possible solutions to these problems and take on the ones that are relevant to your role.
You are intelligent and you have a voice, so use it and be inquisitive. If you find yourself in the same room with the CEO, ask a few questions to gain further understanding of a problem. Curiosity is often a great conversation starter, can expand your knowledge, and highlight that you are not just there for the paycheck.
Take on a monster task that no one else wants to do -- and then do it well. Voluntarily solving a hard problem is an audacious move that will be hard for any CEO to ignore. After you successfully tackle a few tough tasks, you will earn the reputation as a go-to person who is not afraid of a challenge.
Sharing a fresh point-of-view will help you score points, especially if the CEO is often surrounded by like-minded people who trot out the same tired opinions every time. When you offer a revolutionary idea, this will show that you have valuable insights and ideas to help the company reach its goals.
Go above and beyond whatever is required of you. CEOs want people who will step up without waiting to be told what to do. For example, take an intern under your wing to offer her the best learning experience. This will free up others in the company, and your show of leadership will not go unnoticed.
If your career is in neutral, you must take charge and grab every opportunity that comes your way. You want to blow the CEO's mind with everything you have to offer.
If your efforts still do not pay off, take stock of your career and decide how you will achieve your goals. Your ambitions may be pointing you elsewhere -- to a place where you can make a noticeable impact from the very beginning.