I am tired of hearing that women are still being told, “dress for the role you want, and you will get it.” They are being taught that Executive Presence means being able to make impactful presentations (read as “ppt skills”) and wearing executive-like clothes i.e. skirt or pant suits.
How naive do they think women are? How long will women be evaluated based on how they look and what they wear?
Here’s my advice to get promoted or get an expanded role. These apply to men and women, but am addressing women more, thru this post.
1. Define and articulate your career aspirations. A 3plus Survey I recently read showed that 83% of men vs 16% of women have clear articulated career plans. If you don’t know where you want to go and how you want to get there, you will stay stationary, or just “grow with the flow”, as I call it. Works perfectly well in a growing economy / industry and at lower management levels. It is a disaster after that.
2. Superb performance is a basic requirement. It is rare that you will get promoted when your performance places you at the bottom of the heap. So, if you want a promotion or an expanded role or even a role change to something that’s not a conventional move, you are going to have to perform well & be acknowledged for it. Don’t forget, superb performance also includes doing something out of the ordinary, something impactful. Beating your goals is not enough. You gotta go beyond. Read about Nadia Comaneci’s record breaking perfect 10 in the 1976 Olympics, for inspiration.
3. Ask for the change. Stop hinting. Stop assuming that there is someone with a crystal ball and wand. That they will miraculously divine your career ambitions and give it to you. Ask for the role you want and state what you are willing to do to shine in the role (keeping it all in line with your articulated career aspirations). Keeping quiet makes you forgettable. And being forgotten never got anyone the role they wanted.
4. Do the next level job, don’t wait to be promoted. Waiting to be promoted to show your leadership ability, influence and action only enables someone else to get that role you coveted. Work at the next level. Do some portions of the next level job you want. Do it well. Make it a no-brainer for your supervisor / the promotion panel to formally give you the role you want. Do the job first, the promotion will follow soon.
5. Have more than one successor in place. Because organizations want & need the abundance of choice when it comes to good talent. Successors showcase you as a leader who develops other leaders. Not just a leader who creates another leader. Each-on-make-one does not help build organization and leadership capacity.
Having successors in place pushes you to look for a bigger job for yourself. It also ensures that the organisation looks for roles for you. After all, you are a superb performer, have clearly articulated your career aspirations, are working at the next level, and you build leaders as you grow.
6. Delegate. Delegate. Delegate. You have super powers, but doing everything should not be one of them. You can not do everything. More important you should not do everything. You need to know what is happening, not do it yourself, even if doing the work yourself would just be so much faster, better, stronger, higher. You don’t want to be a bottleneck limiting your teams ability to get more done. Teach and delegate. Have your control and recovery mechanisms in place. If you manage this well, you will suddenly find you have more time. More time to plan your career move.
7. You are smart. That may mean you need to communicate more. Many smart people tend not to communicate enough. It is almost as if they believe that if they can understand themselves, so can others. As leaders we need to be able to communicate with a wide variety of people. People who have different interests, intent and drivers. A single style, your own style, will only ensure that people, often the doers, won’t understand what they need to action.