17 Things to Do If You Want to Be the Boss

Author: Daniel B. Kline | August 15, 2019

One wooden figure is higher than the others.

Source: Getty Images

1 of 18

Earn your spot at the top

Becoming the man or woman in charge takes a lot of work and there's no one path to make it happen. To put yourself in position to be considered for a leadership role, however, there are certain things you need to do. This list isn't an exact blueprint, but it's a useful checklist to help you on your path to the top.

Previous

Next

Professionally dressed woman standing with arms crossed in an office.

Source: Getty Images

2 of 18

1. Lead when given a chance

Whether it's taking charge on a project or commanding your own team, take advantage of any opportunity to lead. Even small opportunities can be a way to show the people on top that you're capable of being in charge.

Previous

Next

Senior worker and younger colleague speaking.

Source: Getty Images

3 of 18

2. Set an example

Be the best possible employee you can be. Show that you're willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done and that you don't make excuses. Be in early and out late while getting work done before anyone has to ask.

ALSO READ: How to Deal With an Awful Boss

Previous

Next

Two professionally dressed men and two professionally dressed women high-fiving

Source: Getty Images

4 of 18

3. Be a good teammate

It's easier to be the boss when you have the respect of your peers. Earn that by being a good teammate. Be the person who helps coworkers out without being asked, and be lavish with praise when someone deserves it.

Previous

Next

A sea of college grad caps.

Source: Getty Images

5 of 18

4. Get your education in order

Figure out if you need a certain degree or skill to be in charge. If you don't have the right credentials, put yourself on the path to remedy that.

Previous

Next

Two people sit around a piece of paper.

Source: Getty Images

6 of 18

5. Find a mentor

A mentor might be inside your company or someone from the industry. You want a person who can help you avoid potential pitfalls based on their experience. It's also important to find someone who's well connected and can open doors for you (or place a call on your behalf).

ALSO READ: The Best Advice I Ever Received From a Mentor

Previous

Next

smiling woman wearing apron standing outside coffee shop with her arms folded

Source: Getty Images

7 of 18

6. Think like a boss

An employee tends to think of his or her success first and the company second. A boss (a good one at least) puts company goals ahead of any individual gain. It's hard to think that way when your ultimate goal is personal, but doing so will help you get there. 

Previous

Next

A room full of people at a networking event.

Source: Getty Images

8 of 18

7. Network

Sometimes it is who you know. Get out there and meet people in the industry.

That could lead to an offer from another company or you might make a connection that helps in your job. Sometimes who you know matters more than what you know when it comes to getting the opportunities you deserve.

Previous

Next

A teacher at the front of a classroom full of students with hands raised.

Source: Getty Images

9 of 18

8. Volunteer

Be the person who volunteers to help when needed. Leaders step up, and your bosses and coworkers will notice. Focus on getting the job done, not on what you get out of it. The rewards will be long-term.

ALSO READ: How to Create a Volunteering and Career-Growth Culture

Previous

Next

A smiling mature man in a suit standing with his arms crossed.

Source: Getty Images

10 of 18

9. Look like a boss

Your company may have a loose dress code, but bosses tend to dress a bit above that. Judge the culture and spruce up your wardrobe. That may not mean anything too fancy, but it could involve upgrading your look so it mirrors that of the people in charge.

Previous

Next

Two coworkers dressed in business attire reviewing paperwork in an open area of an office.

Source: Getty Images

11 of 18

10. Learn new skills

It's important to know more than your job. Be interested in other parts of the company and take advantage of cross-training opportunities. This might be as simple as offering to learn a task done by a coworker so they can take a day off. Be open to learning, and look for areas where the company needs help.

Previous

Next

A woman at the head of a table leading a meeting.

Source: Getty Images

12 of 18

11. Make it clear

If you hope to someday be in a leadership position, discuss that with human resources and your boss. A good boss should help you fill in the skills needed to get where you are going, and HR will be aware of any management openings you might be a fit to fill.

ALSO READ: 80% of Workers See Faults in Their Boss, Yet Most Say Nothing

Previous

Next

A green exit sign with arrow.

Source: Getty Images

13 of 18

12. Be willing to leave

Your opportunity to be the boss may not come where you work now. Look for opportunities elsewhere and be willing to make the jump. It's also possible that an offer from another company could cause yours to see you in a different light, which could open some doors at your current location.

Previous

Next

An illustration says yes and no

Source: Getty Images

14 of 18

13. Say yes

You can stand out by being willing to do anything asked of you. That doesn't mean you should let yourself be taken advantage of. Instead, it means being open to opportunity, new projects, and being willing to do something unpleasant just because it needs to be done.

Previous

Next

A woman celebrating with hands in the air from her desk.

Source: Getty Images

15 of 18

14. Share credit

Be generous when it comes to crediting others for their work. Share credit and make sure you praise and thank people liberally.

ALSO READ: When Your Boss Leaves, and There’s No Replacement

Previous

Next

Analog clock.

Source: Getty Images

16 of 18

15. Don't watch the clock

A lot of people leave opportunity on the table because they get hung up on being paid for their time. Yes, you work to get paid, but you should also be willing to invest in yourself. If you get to do something cool or beneficial for your career, but the money may not be there, try not to think about that and instead just embrace the opportunity.

Previous

Next

Coffee mug that says World's Best Boss.

Source: Getty Images

17 of 18

16. Observe good bosses

You can learn by watching people who are good at their job. If you see a boss who inspires employees while producing strong results, watch that person and see how they lead.

Previous

Next

A man holds a paper angry face over his face.

Source: Getty Images

18 of 18

17. And watch the bad ones, too

You can learn what to do by watching good bosses. Watching bad bosses can also show you what not to do. Be observant and keep an eye on people who are in charge that make mistakes or don't treat people well. Doing that can help you figure out your own leadership style.

ALSO READ:  Should You Quit Your Job Because of a Bad Boss?

The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Previous

Next