Five ways millennials can become bosses sooner

Millennials are starting at the bottom at work. These five tips will help them become bosses sooner.

Melanie Stetson Freeman/Staff/File
Clara Gustafson works at a cyber security company, on January 12, 2015 in Baltimore, Maryland.

Our generation receives a lot of flack for being spoiled and entitled, but there's no denying that we're ambitious. We want to be in control of our lives and careers, and for some, this means becoming the person who calls the shots. The best way to do that is through entrepreneurship (I had to slip that in there), but if you're hellbent on taking the corporate path, here are five ways you can claim your rightful position at the top faster than all those naysayers think you can.

1. Volunteer for Leadership Roles

To move up faster and become a boss sooner, you have to show your employer from the very beginning that you're capable of a leadership role. This isn't the time to second-guess yourself or hide in the background.

Jonathan Coughtrey, content manager of the personal finance blog Action Economics!, advises volunteering for leadership roles whenever there's an opportunity.

"I became a supervisor over a crew of six people in my company when I was 23," he says. "This year — at age 28 — I was promoted to management and I am responsible for the day-to-day implementation of all the work on our project, which encompasses 75 people per shift."

If you're young and fresh out of college, your boss may underestimate your ability and unfairly question whether you can effectively lead or manage a team. Volunteering for leadership-type assignments, however, showcases your abilities, giving your employer the opportunity to see you in action. You might have knowledge and traits that some senior employees lack, putting you in line for promotions sooner.

"I had to learn more about our procedures than the other crew members, and this knowledge helped me become a subject matter expert and go-to person," Coughtrey continues. "Upper management noticed this and when opportunities opened up, my name was on the top of the list."

2. Develop the Qualities of a Boss

It takes more than education and stellar performance reviews to become a boss early in your career; you also need to act like a boss. Employers look at the big picture when deciding whether to promote an employee to a management or supervisory role. Do you think you have what it takes to lead people and contribute to the company's success?

Some Millennials make the mistake of only setting their eyes on becoming a boss, and they fail to consider what it actually takes to get to this point.

"Focus on what traits and accomplishments are needed to get to where you want to be," says Brock Murray, co-owner and director of web marketing with seoplus+, a digital marketing agency. "A good boss leads by example, communicates well, shows passion, discipline, organization, creativity, and goes above and beyond the status quo."

Learn how to embody these traits and you'll not only win the boss title, you'll also win respect and become an effective leader.

3. Learn How to Build Face-to-Face Relationships

As a tech-savvy generation, you're a pro at e-mail, text messaging, and social media, to the point where you might not remember the last time you picked up the phone and had an actual conversation. (I'm with you, brothers and sisters; I rarely use the phone for voice activities myself.) However, while knowledge of technology and the digital world is highly beneficial in today's corporate world, being a boss requires familiarity with all types of communication. People of older generations often prefer face-to-face communication, so you have to be adaptable.

Tim Elmore, founder and leader of Growing Leaders, a leadership prep program for students, explains the danger of relying too heavily on technology.

"Leaders of younger generations are from the most social generation in history," he says. "They are in constant contact with peers and family through iMessages and social media. But, they are also highly isolated because so much of their relational contact is through technology. This has led to poor people skills, low emotional intelligence, and the inability to handle interpersonal challenges."

This doesn't imply ditching social media or text messaging, but at the same time, don't be afraid to take advantage of opportunities to meet face-to-face or network, which can improve your communication and people skills, and help you become a well-rounded boss.

4. Ask for What You Want

Because of your age, your employer might think becoming a boss is the farthest thing from your mind. So even if he knows you're capable of this role, he might hold off offering you a promotion. Additionally, you might hesitate expressing your desire to move up for fear of coming off as overconfident or arrogant. But according to career and leadership coach Kamara Toffolo, who's also a Millennial, you're only holding yourself back by keeping quiet.

"Often your own boss has no idea you want to be a boss yourself, so have the conversation," she advises.

Toffolo also believes it's important for Millennials to realize they don't have to sit idly on the sidelines and think hard work alone will get them to the top. This doesn't always work.

"Ask them how you can groom and prepare yourself for a management role and become an attractive candidate," she says.

5. Pave Your Own Path

Of course, advancing up the career ladder at work isn't the only way to become a boss. If you're feeling unfulfilled, boxed in, or like you're losing your mind, don't be afraid to jump ship and become the boss of your own company.

"The biggest mistake most Millennials make is assuming that the path their parents took will still work for them. Starting in the mailroom and working your way up to CEO just doesn't work anymore," explains Nick Fox, career coach and founder of Success Hacking. "It wasn't until I jumped ship to run my own business that I realized that the greatest way to become a boss is to forge your own path."

If you're living at home or have minimum expenses, or if you don't have a spouse or children, now might be as good a time as ever to build a business from the ground up and be in complete control of your income and time. It's much harder to take a leap when you're older and carry more responsibilities.

"When you're young, you have a lot of leeway to make mistakes," says Fox.

In other words, the time is now.

This article is from Mikey Rox of Wise Bread, an award-winning personal finance and credit card comparison website. 

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