Being an outstanding manager and concurrently working up to the next rung on the ladder is a constant in almost every manager’s career—unless he loses interest in gaining a promotion. There is nothing wrong with not wanting to pay the price of moving to the next level.
Preparing for your promotion
That is healthy if it’s what you feel, because it means you’re in touch with yourself. We all may reach a point where we are no longer considered for a promotion. Conversely, we may still be considered promotable, but we are comfortable where we are and don’t want the aggravation that goes with the next promotion. Besides, the promotion pyramid gets much narrower the closer it gets to the top. Even the chair of the board of directors and CEO are no longer promotable—at least in the present company.
In a past article, I mentioned that you have a right to know where you stand as far as promotability is concerned. I even suggested that there was nothing wrong with pressing for that information. Let’s rethink this. If you don’t care to be promoted, why ask? If you are offered a promotion, however, that’s flattering and you might even change your mind.
If you want to be promoted and you think a promotion is long overdue, why ask and have some boss say, “No, I don’t believe you are promotable,” or have your boss dodge the question and leave you dissatisfied? What if you ask, and your boss puts a note in your file that says, “Manager Jones pressed me about promotion. Told him he’s topped out.” Now, let’s say your boss leaves and goes to another company, and you’re getting along famously with the new executive. You’d rather not have that “he’s topped out” comment in your file. Why trigger that possible response —which may be faulty—and have it carved in stone?
If you are desirous of additional promotions, it helps to keep your eye on the ball and not be distracted by some future possibility. While there is nothing wrong with letting a decision maker know you would welcome a new challenge, the greatest favor you can do for your career is to be outstanding at the job you hold right now. Mastering your current job is your first priority. Every other ambition must be secondary to that objective.
Acquiring a Sponsor
It helps to have a boss who sings your praise at the executive level. Develop good relationships with all the executives with whom you come in contact, who know the quality of your performance, and who recognize your healthy upbeat attitude. If the only one who thinks highly of you is your boss, and she leaves the company, you’ve lost your advocate—unless your boss offers you a great job in her new company.
It helps if many executives in the organization know your name in positive terms. Being sponsored by several star executives is a great thing. Gladly accept committee assignments that put you in contact with managers and executives beyond your own department, consistent with your other commitments.
Having Style and Merit
Achieving the objectives discussed in this article requires excellent performance and self-confidence on your part. Often, the difference between a satisfactory job and a great job is image or style. Your style colors a superior’s perception of your performance, especially if the style is one to which your superior reacts positively. But a bad or offensive style is similarly critical in evoking a negative response.
Doing a great job and maximizing the mileage you get out of that is one thing; conning people into thinking you’re doing an outstanding job when you’re not is quite another and will create problems. The message and the performance must be in sync in order to maximize your promotion chances.
No doubt you have been advised to lead by example. It’s excellent advice. There is, however, another level beyond leading by example—authentic leadership. Authentic leadership is about gaining the regard of your team by being real and genuine. There are two inseparable elements of authentic leadership—exhibiting the behavior you seek and matching your actions with your statements.
Your team members observe you closely. They give you some regard and even deference because you are the boss. When you lead authentically, you will receive the genuine regard and respect of your team by choice instead of necessity. That is true leadership. Because you’re the boss, your people will likely be responsive and respectful enough not to create problems for themselves.
When you are an authentic leader, the dynamic changes; your people will move from being responsive of necessity to being inspired and engaged. It’s powerful.
- If you exhibit high personal standards, you will inspire the same in your team members.
- If you are thoughtful and ethical in your decision making, you will inspire the same.
- If you are respectful of your colleagues even when you disagree with them, you will inspire respectful behavior.
- If you conduct yourself with class, you will set a higher standard for your team.
So be honest with yourself; recognize who you are and the example you want to set. Then do it. It will make you both an inspiring leader and a better person as well as increase your chances for a future promotion.