Here’s a largely hidden career fact: We are rarely in the room when our career is decided for us. Behind closed doors, senior leaders make decisions that determine the opportunities we are given to pursue.
Teachers, supervisors, coaches, parents, and directors exert this influence when we are not present to advocate for ourselves. We are highly dependent on the advocates in the room to propel us forward by arguing for our merits and the challenges we are ready for.
We would all like to think the leader or manager we report to will carry the day for us and offer strong advocacy on our behalf. This is usually more true than not. However, we stack the deck when we have more than one advocate in the room.
Creating advocates among those with influence above us is a cornerstone skill for success. Doing this requires a desire to create these advocates in the first place, as this aspiration is often not on the radar for those busy with getting things done.
Creating advocates requires we identify those above us who share our values and show even the slightest interest in us. Frequently asking for advice and counsel about our everyday challenges and decisions from these leaders gives us a forum through which to establish a genuine relationship.
This requires the courage to engage and comes with the risk of being ignored or rejected, which is never easy. Pushing through this discomfort and asking senior leaders for a small piece of time to discuss how they see the world can create strong advocacy in quick order. Doing this with many influential leaders produces a wave of advocacy which will pay huge dividends over time.
Your leader’s advocacy is not enough. It is often the second and third advocate that carry your career and the opportunities you see forward. No time like the present to begin building advocacy and advocates. What are you waiting for?