Increase your organizational smarts

The key to career advancement is the ability to quickly size up new work situations and adapt to them, according to David Brown, author of "Organization Smarts: Portable Skills for Professionals Who Want to Get Ahead."

In his career, which has spanned the corporate, political and academic worlds, Brown has analyzed the crucial skills needed for those who want to get ahead. His AMACOM book (AMACOM is the book publishing division of American Management Association) outlines how to develop these skills on your own. Here are some of his tips for reaching the next rung of the career ladder:

* Live up to your reputation. Find out what others value about you and why you were hired or promoted. This makes it easier to fulfill others' expectations.

* Talk to your predecessor. Identify what that person learned on the job and ask for advice about how you can fill his or her shoes.

* Bear hug your detractors. Keep someone with whom you have differences close so you can learn ways in which to improve your working relationship.

* Find the "custodians." Look for the unofficial leaders who have the inside scoop on the organization and how it works.

* Get to know the gatekeepers. Establish a good rapport with those who can give you access to those who wield the power and resources.

* Walk your talk. Be sure your actions are consistent with your words so others will take you seriously.

* Help your boss. When you present a problem or bad news, be ready to suggest a solution.

* Organize your agenda. Establish a meeting agenda by starting with something everyone can agree on. That way cooperation develops and isn't filtered from the outset.

* Use precipitating events to change the status quo. Take advantage of events such as a merger or new CEO to forward your agenda.

* Build an invisible coalition. Seek out those who stand to gain from the changes you want to introduce and explain to them why they'll each benefit.

* Exit with care. As you prepare to make a career move, remember that your exit counts as much as your entrance.

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