Looking bad in front of the boss is such a pervasive fear that many hesitate to apply for a new job or seek out a promotion because they feel intimidated by what the person in the corner office might think.

Share story

From sales clerk to C-level executive, there is a fear shared by most people who want to advance their careers: Looking bad in front of the boss. It’s so pervasive that many hesitate to apply for a new job or seek out a promotion because they feel intimidated by what the person in the corner office might think.

What job seekers don’t always realize is that many of these fears can be eased by simply adopting the mind-set of a “boss” — that is, demonstrating leadership skills regardless of whether you supervise anyone else. It’s not about pretending; it’s about adopting the thought patterns and habits that proven leaders possess, and letting these qualities guide your career.

In her latest book, “Becoming the Boss,” career consultant Lindsey Pollak describes how professionals — from entry-level job seekers to execs gunning for the CEO spot — can find greater success by thinking like a boss. Here are a few of her tips on how to view new challenges the way a born leader would.

Embrace fear. Accept that fear is a natural emotion that comes with taking the risk of finding a new job or getting a promotion — not a reason to prevent you from committing to your goal. Quoting comedian Bill Cosby’s advice, Pollak says, “Decide that you want it more than you are afraid of it.”

Absorb everything. Become an information sponge, she says. Subscribe to blogs, read books and magazines, and talk to colleagues. More important, be open to all other forms of unrelated input, such as TV, art, films, seminars and travel. “When you fill the tanks with ideas from other realms,” she says, “you start to make random connections and come up with really creative ideas.”

Find new friends. Start talking to people outside your comfort zone. Limiting your interactions to friends and family can sometimes hold you back, Pollak says. Instead, seek out individuals who share your views about your goals for success. Join forums where you can discuss these topics freely, and keep your mind open to new ideas.

Practice every day. As you identify skills you need to reach your goals, keep experimenting and focusing on continual improvement, but don’t obsess about “mastering” everything. “You will become smarter and better at anything just by committing to doing it a lot,” Pollak says. “Let go of perfection and focus on practice.”

Randy Woods is a writer and editor in the Puget Sound business publishing arena and a veteran of the local job-search scene. Email him at randywoods67@gmail.com.