To quote Peter Drucker, “The stepladder has gone, and there’s not even an implied structure of an industry rope ladder; it’s more like vines, and you bring your own machete!”
Today work environment has changed beyond all recognition, and the journey towards promotion is changing inexorably within business circles. How can you improve your chances of being seen and heard in the promotion stakes?
It’s not enough these days to just be excellent at your job. All that does is make yourself stand out in your current position. You need to discuss with the right personnel exactly what skills and talents are required for the promotable position. Try to become more visible by mixing with those decision-makers who you need to impress. But do it to support the business, not to show off your skills.
The most important skills you can develop to make yourself promotable revolve around great interpersonal skills. Most senior positions demand a higher level of political sensitivity because relationships go beyond the organisational setting and are more likely to have an impact on the long-term viability of the business.
You need to prove that you are able to meet the business objectives the new role will demand. Show your abilities by volunteering for an important project, chair a committee or support a specific interest group. This will show your passion and support for the whole business and you’re more likely to be seen as someone who can add value at a more senior level. If you act like someone who occupies the type of role you are aiming for, you are more likely to be seen by others who make those promotion decisions.
One skill you will need in a senior position is the ability to build and lead teams. Without co-operative networks, the business is less likely to succeed, so you need to be seeking out opportunities to grow team spirit and business acumen. Communicating clear objectives, understanding motivations and personal values of team members are critical knowledge centres for you.
Your ability to manage transition and change will be carefully scrutinised. Remaining flexible and actively seeking ways to progress, keeping people motivated through change and learning from new experiences will highlight the abilities that top management are looking for from their promotable candidates.
Identify role models that exhibit the style and expertise that you know will get you noticed. Look for a potential coach, either in person or through reading and DVD/CD materials, who will help and encourage you through the transition period. The best people will be internal within your organisation, and if you approach them with the attitude of wanting to learn and not show off your potential, you will be in strong position to benefit from their knowledge and experience.
So, being promotable depends more on your ambassadorial qualities as you want to represent your company from a higher level. It demands you demonstrate an active interest in the strategic issues you will face, and ability to reach targets and build value, a genuinely confident communication style and the ability to build good long-term relationships with your teams, colleagues and clients. Remember…making a success of your current role is the best foundation for success in your future roles!
Originally published: 20 August, 2010
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