Posted by Robert Half on 05 October 2013
Sometimes, the best way to learn how to succeed in your career is by following the example of a top performer. After all, who better to learn from than a person who’s already crossed the threshold of success?
Enter the career idol: a successful professional who can, either directly or indirectly, serve as a guide as you chart your own career path. The best career idols are typically those individuals who have excelled in a variety of positions, have strong business ethics and are regarded by other employees as the go-to people in the office.
By emulating a colleague you respect and admire, you can avoid some of the pitfalls that might slow you down on your way up the corporate ladder. You can also reduce the learning curve when trying to acquire new skills.
Below are examples of additional things you can learn by observing a career idol:
How to handle day-to-day tasks
Note how a successful individual makes the most of their workday. For instance, how does he structure his time? Does he make lists and prioritise tasks? Does he interact with colleagues most often through email or face to face? Observing how mundane tasks are handled by a top performer can yield valuable insight into maximising productivity.
How to build relationships with coworkers
Pay attention to how your career idol relates to colleagues on all levels, not just the higher-ups. How much time, if any, does she spend engaging in non-work related conversations? How often does she help coworkers with projects? Maintaining good relationships with colleagues plays a key role in career advancement.
How to get noticed
Highly successful employees have figured out what behaviours are rewarded at the office. For instance, some organisations are quicker to promote individuals who’ve earned particular credentials. Others may place more emphasis on longer work hours. By studying your career idol, you’ll learn what qualifications and work habits the company values most.
You don’t always have to observe a career idol from afar. Successful professionals can serve as mentors when you have questions or need career advice. Most people are more than happy to share some of the knowledge and insights they’ve gained over the years, so don’t hesitate to ask.