Despite popular opinion, you don't have to be the smartest person in the room to get ahead. No need to have attended an elite university. In fact, a college degree isn't even a requirement. Anyone with solid ambition can succeed within corporate America, as long as they have the drive and desire to accomplish great things.

To help you on your career journey, I've compiled these 10 simple hacks for climbing the corporate ladder. But, be warned, they do require effort and determination.

  1. Show Up: Woody Allen famously said in his film Love and Death, "80 percent of success is showing up." There's a lot of truth in this thought. Getting to your job on-time, prepared for the day ahead and ready to start goes a long way to earning a reputation as someone who can be counted on. This is an important distinction to gain for advancement in your career.
  2. Smile: While just showing up gains you some points, coming to work with positive attitude may help to further separate you from the pack. No one wants to work with a sour puss. So going gets tough, give a smile, don't complain and keep your negative energy to yourself. This, too, can make a positive difference in your career.
  3. Don't Wait to Be Told: Most leaders love to see their people take initiative-especially when that initiative is aimed at furthering the team's advancement towards achievement of the organization's vision for the future. Accordingly, it's wise not to wait to be told to do something that you know will eventually be assigned to you to do. Instead, just do it! You'll make an impression and be labeled as a self-starter capable of taking on more responsibility.
  4. Find a Mentor: I've written about the topic in this column in the past. Indeed, mentorship can be very powerful tool for career advancement. A good mentor can serve as a "jungle guide" for you as you navigate the corporate landscape. Seek out the counsel of someone that you respect and may want to emulate, they'll likely appreciate the opportunity to help.
  5. Do Your Homework: The best investment that you can make in your career is to put in the effort needed to become an expert in your chosen field. Don't be afraid to put in some extra time in your off hours to research and learn all that you can about the work that you do.
  6. Earn Extra Credit: Ratchet up your "expert" chops by writing an article, speaking at a conference or even leading a "lunch 'n learn" at the office. You can share the insights that you've gained through your research and learning, which will serve to further cement your point-of-view on the work that you're doing within your field.
  7. Challenge the Current Thinking: Industry outsiders are the ones that typically breakthrough current paradigms. They have no investment in the way work is presently done. So, they seek alternative ways of thinking and doing. Be that person! Look for ways to break the paradigm within your field. Talk your ideas through with your mentor. It can be a sure fire way to get invited to participate in projects and programs that require outside-the-box thinking within your firm, which can also help you to get the recognition needed to advance up the corporate ladder.
  8. Help Others: Don't get the reputation of being a cut-throat! You will not advance. Instead, help others learn what you've come to discover and you will accomplish two very important career enhancing goals: Firstly, your boss will see you as a leader, and, secondly, your colleagues won't resent you as much as you progress past them.
  9. Share the Spotlight: As important as self-promotion can be to one's career advancement, it can stifle it just as easily. No one likes a showoff. On the other hand, humility is always an attractive quality. Hence, as you begin to earn accolades, be sure to share the spotlight with your team. It will show a level of maturity that deserves a chance to lead.
  10. Be Willing to Do What Others Are Not: No one ever told you that life is easy and work is always fun. So, don't expect them to be. Sometimes life is messy and your work requires you to do things that you don't really want to do. But, if you become that person that is always willing to do what others are not, you will stand-out among your peers and will be given a chance to further your career.

To close, these 10 career enhancing hacks can make a huge difference in your advancement up the corporate ladder. Use them wisely and you'll soon see a whole new set of opportunities unfold right before your very eyes. When you one day reach the pinnacle of your career, please be sure to share your insights and advice with the next generation of business professionals-it's the best way to continue to further the quality of management thinking and leadership development.

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