11 Ways to Rise from Front-line to Top Leadership

Ron Wallace began his career at UPS as a driver and ended it as President of UPS International.

I asked Ron how a person rises from driver to President.

get comfortable being held accountable if you want to get ahead

11 ways to rise from front-line to top leadership:

#1. Work for a company that promotes from within. Did top leadership at your organization come from within or without?

#2. Outwork everyone. Have an, “… insane commitment to the job.”

#3. Take advantage of opportunities. You never earn your way to the top by doing the same thing over and over.

5 marks of an opportunity:

  1. Expect to add value before receiving value.
  2. Make others look good.
  3. Is it something you haven’t done before?
  4. Is there the potential of good return on your effort? Don’t waste your energy on insignificant issues.
  5. Is your contribution visible? In organizational life, if others don’t know what you do, what you do doesn’t matter.
    • Don’t seek the spotlight.
    • Don’t work to be seen.
    • Don’t grab credit.
    • Seek to make a positive difference.

There will be times when the good you do is overlooked. Never complain. Keep doing good. Generosity, not stinginess, takes you far.

#4. Volunteer.

#5. Take on tough assignments. Go where others have failed. Imperfect situations grow your leadership.

  1. Fix what’s broken.
  2. See and solve problems. You’ll never rise to top leadership in growing organizations by ignoring tough issues.
  3. Make life better for customers.

#6. Be willing to relocate.

#7. Have a good mentor.

#8. Read.

#9. Pay attention to what’s going on around you. Listen.

Keep your mouth shut until you’ve taken on responsibility and delivered great results.

When you open your mouth, open it to volunteer for a tough assignment. Losers open their mouths to explain what others should do. Leaders open their mouths to take on responsibility.

#10. Develop people skills.

#11. Be accountable. Get comfortable being held accountable, if you want to get ahead.  

Ron in his own words (2:41): 

How might people rise from the front-line to top leadership?

*This list is adapted and expanded from my conversation with Ron Wallace.

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