Most managers didn’t make it to the upper echelons of their company by having their head in the clouds. They observed and learned from those they hoped to emulate, and those lessons served them well. Just remember the lessons your manager learned can be a valuable asset for you as well. Ask questions, listen carefully and pay close attention to your supervisor’s actions.

Here are three important lessons your manager learned early on (or they wouldn’t be your manager). Following these lessons won’t guarantee you a seat at the management conference table, but if you fail to allow them to guide you in your career, it’s almost certain no one will offer you that seat. Here they are in no particular order of importance:

1.    You can be replaced

Your manager has likely been around long enough to have seen a slew of “irreplaceable” employees leave and be immediately replaced. Don’t make the common mistake of believing because you have a degree, have accumulated valuable experience and are moving up the rungs of the company ladder there’s no one to replace you.

Bring your “A” game to work every day. Strive to be the most valuable employee in every way. Come to work ready to hit the ground running. You’ll soon set yourself apart from all those workers who have convinced themselves they can’t be replaced.

2.    Develop your people skills just as seriously as you do your work skills

It’s true that if you work hard and do well, you’ll stay in your boss’s good graces. But if you want to move up professionally, you’ll also need to improve your people skills. If you’re hoping for a promotion, customer service and good manners will become essential to your continued success.

No matter what the future holds, you’ll be required to interact with people who might be in a position to recommend you for a promotion or to make your work life miserable. Learn to treat them in a professional manner (even if they don’t deserve it), and you’ll soon be getting the respect you deserve.

3.    Learn to be flexible, and don’t be shy about asking questions

One of the most valuable traits any good manager can possess is flexibility. Being able to adapt to changes in deadlines, project specifications and the variety of employee personalities is essential to professional success. When your company’s goals change, you must be able to adapt, clarify and manage those changes. And if you’re going to do that effectively, you must be willing to ask a lot of questions.

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