It is a tenet of legitimately great leadership that we need to be actively interested and invested in the growth and career path of people we are lucky enough to lead – especially our high-performers and those who show they are high-potential. However, it is not unusual – unfortunately – if you are very strong, ambitious, and competent for some newer leadership or leadership whose priorities are a little blurry to instead invest time and energy in poor performers or “fixing” toxic employees and leave some of the better people to their own devices. Should it be this way? No, but the reality is most leaders and organization still function this way.

It’s always inspiring and exciting to know that your results are noticed and your work is valued. Not only that, but it’s much easier to believe in yourself when you know that others believe in you as well and are there to celebrate your successes with you. Not everyone has a leader who makes it a point to recognize and appreciate performance. And even those who have great leaders with best intentions, may lose sight of great performance in favor of other priorities [people and performance issues] at times.

The good news is that even if your leadership team isn’t right there for your success each step of the way, there are definitely silent signs that confirm you are crushing it and your leadership knows it, too. Signs that they trust you and have a future plan for you. Here are some of those signs:

You’re Given More Responsibility: A strong leader who believes in you isn’t going to ask someone to take on stretch assignments that they believe is struggling with their current projects. So, even though it would be be awesome if new assignments came coupled with, “I picked you for this because you’re amazing and doing such a great job with everything else!” that’s often what it means even when it isn’t articulated.

We all want to know that to be given a new project that will endorse and enhance our skills – as opposed to a “boss” who is simply pushing things they don’t want to do off their plate. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Does this give me the opportunity to enhance my skills and marketability or qualify me for other types of elevated projects?
  • Does this allow me to contribute to the strategic objectives of the company or department?
  • Does this align with what I’ve communicated I’d like to learn?

You’re Given More Autonomy: Objectively, there are more people on most teams that need guidance and ‘management’ than those that don’t. So, when you are given a project or task that is new to you and an overview of the objective with the direction to run with it and follow up with the leader if you need some help or support, that means they trust your judgement and skills. Empowering you to take on more responsibility with less supervision is a way of saying, “You’re doing a fabulous job, and so I trust you can keep delivering excellence with less input from me!” Your leader should ALWAYS be available and accessible to you should you need help, however […and great leaders are].

You’re Treated To A Higher Level Of Visibility [Because You’ve Earned It]: The very best leaders identify opportunities for their people to learn by doing and collaborating. Also, they endorse their best people by selecting them to represent the company at conferences, to host executive visits, be involved in onboarding, etc. These things are requested only of people who the leader has complete faith in, and who they believe epitomizes the organization or team in the very best light. Without a doubt, when you’re asked to speak on behalf of your colleagues, it’s because the leader thinks you’re doing a great job.

You’re Known As The Resident Expert In A Certain Area: There’s a big difference between being great at your job and good at helping others do their jobs…and a lot fewer people are good at the teaching and mentoring part. If your leader is directing people to you, it’s because they know you absolutely excel at something and they know you are a trustworthy and knowledgeable resources for others to learn and grow from.

You’re Sent To Help Others: Let’s say a colleague is trying to untangle a complex mess either of their own making or one they’ve inherited and it looks like they are running into a dead end or are in danger of missing a deadline.  When you are critical and important to the business you are quickly asked to partner with this person and help sort out the mess and get the project or business back on track. This supports the fact that you have the trust of senior leadership. They would not send someone in who wasn’t capable of sorting, organizing, and teaching someone a better way to work.

You Receive More Direct And Precise Feedback:  These comments says a lot about the talent level of the recipient. If you work in a strong feedback culture and have been flagged as a high-potential growth candidate – expect people to be a lot more attentive to how you work, not less. You will receive feedback with radical candor from your immediate leaders and other leaders you may interact with. They trust you to process this information in an adult and responsible way and learn from it because they know that you are open to growth and improvement on your fast-track career journey.

You May Feel Somewhat Neglected: I recognize that this is in direct opposition of the previous point but…you might experience both of these points in pretty close proximity to one another. One week you will feel inundated with attention, guidance, and direction and then feel completely ignored for the next month. Sometimes, leaders want to see how proactive and self-motivating their highly-productive and high-potential [future leader] candidates are. Those who need less care and attention may have the competitive edge over those who need constant reinforcement and direction to be productive.

All of these signs should be taken as the positives they are, because in the end, while it would be fantastic if your leader said, “Thank you” and “Amazing job! Well done!” it’s even more important that their actions speak to how they believe in you and your talent.