14 Lessons From NCIS For Getting Ahead At Work

Stream episodes of NCIS on CBS All Access.

1. Show up early.

1. Show up early.

Before you get ahead, you need to actually show up—and show up on time. Have you ever heard the saying, "If you're early, you're on time; if you're on time, you're late; and late is unacceptable"? Well, make that your motto from here on out. No one likes a straggler, no matter how good you may think your work is.

​​Stream episodes of NCIS now on CBS All Access.
2. Be willing to step up your leadership game.

2. Be willing to step up your leadership game.

Sometimes you've got to do more than what's in your contract to get ahead. Being proactive won't just show your boss you're ready to become a leader, it will also help you actually become one. 

Take it from McGee (Sean Murray). When Gibbs (Mark Harmon) was handling business outside of the office, the team relied on McGee to lead them. While he doubted himself initially, McGee was eventually surprised to learn that a little confidence and a lot of communication can easily take someone from being a follower to being a fearless leader in no time.
3. Dress the part.

3. Dress the part.

They say to dress for the job you want, not just for the job you have. So whether you have your eye on a new management position or are hoping to one day own your own company, you're going to need to present yourself in a way that shows others you're prepared for an upgrade. 

What they don't tell you is that you should still stay true to your personality. Just look at Abby (Pauley Perrette)! Her character shines from beneath her lab coat. Sure, her incredible forensic skills were the main reason she got such an amazing gig, but being her bright and quirky self certainly didn't hurt.
4. Say

4. Say "yes" when your boss asks for help, even if it seems a little unconventional.

Sometimes your boss is going to ask you to do things that are a little outside of your comfort zone. Take the time Gibbs asked Torres (Wilmer Valderrama) to spend time with a cancer patient as part of his job. Gibbs sensed that there was something in that situation Torres needed to confront—and he was right. Torres had lost his former girlfriend to cancer.
5. Pay attention during important meetings.

5. Pay attention during important meetings.

Everyone needs a little afternoon snack to keep up the energy, but it might be a good idea to hold off until after your boss dishes out an important game plan. Focus on what the speaker is saying so you are prepared. Besides, nothing says you don't respect your boss more than smacking through his powerpoint presentation. 
6. Take a lot of mental notes.

6. Take a lot of mental notes.

Not all significant information is dispensed through an office-wide memo. In fact, sometimes the most important details aren't written down at all. Pay attention to the little things your boss says. What you think might just be ramblings or quirks could end up saving you when you least expect it. 
7. Always go above and beyond.

7. Always go above and beyond.

We can't think of a better example of a shining employee than Abby. No matter how easy or hard the job is, she goes above and beyond every single day to ensure that her team gets the best results possible. If you're vying for a promotion, follow Abby's lead and answer all of your boss's questions before they even have the chance to ask them. Trust us, your efforts won't go unnoticed. 
8. Play nicely with your coworkers.

8. Play nicely with your coworkers.

When you're working with the same group of people for 40 hours a week, you're undoubtedly going to make a few friends. Fostering good relationships with your coworkers is great. Not only do you create a more productive and enjoyable atmosphere, but you also prove to your boss that you can effectively communicate with a diverse group of people.

So go ahead, have a friendly rivalry, too—but keep it in good fun.
9. Stay organized.

9. Stay organized.

Your mom may have been looking out for more than just her sanity when she pestered you to keep your room clean as a kid. As it turns out, an organized life is a productive life. 

Imagine how much time the NCIS team would have saved if they could have easily accessed the information they needed from storage when the electricity was down. Everyone would have been spared the headache of rummaging through years of paperwork if one person had taken the time to organize all of those files. 

Show your superiors that you're ready to carry the team by getting your things—and your life—in order. 
10. Participate in office activities.

10. Participate in office activities.

Between running to and from meetings and tackling the ever-growing stack of paperwork on your desk, sometimes it can feel like a job is all work and no play. So when your company offers an office happy hour or invites people to dress up for Halloween, make sure to take it! Not only will you break up the monotony of day-to-day tasks, but you'll also demonstrate that you're a fun person who brings more to the table than just stellar reports. 
11. Introduce your significant other to your coworkers.

11. Introduce your significant other to your coworkers.

Some people prefer to keep their work and their private lives separate, and that's totally fine. But don't feel pressured to exclude your significant other from work-related events.
12. Be versatile.

12. Be versatile.

It's great to be able to work solo, but sometimes the best ideas come from working as a team. Demonstrating that you're a strong team player will take you far. If you can work together, you can absolutely help lead together.
13. Help your coworkers when they need it most.

13. Help your coworkers when they need it most.

Stay in your coworkers' good graces by paying attention to their needs. When Palmer (Brian Dietzen) started stressing about becoming a new father, Abby was right by his side to both calm him down and show him how important he was to the team by planning an office baby shower.
14. Stay positive.

14. Stay positive.

Don't participate in office drama. The only thing you'll accomplish is bringing yourself down. Keep the positivity flowing by focusing on what matters most—your health and sanity. Trust us, you'll feel better and your boss will respect you more.

​​​Stream episodes of NCIS now on CBS All Access.