One of the most common question I get from my career coaching clients is how to get promoted. Conversely, the most common frustration and complaint I hear is the lack of career progression. Today, I’m going to share with you a strategic framework for 5 key ways to get promoted. This is based on my personal experience in over 2 decades of working in Corporate America. I started slowly and learned everything the hard way. Eventually, I figured it out and moved up to GM and VP roles within a few years.
Here we go:
1. Identify the organizational gap so that you have a place to get promoted
To get promoted, there must be a spot available for you. You might be replacing your manager or you might be leveling-up into a brand new role. But you must identify the organization gap and justify the need to fill it. This gap can be in your own team, or it can be in other teams. You need to be an observer of organizational dynamics. You need to ask around. You need to think critically – will someone above you leave or move up? If that happens, what will happen next? Do you know your boss’s boss well? How can you demonstrate that you’re ready to take on the more senior role?
2. You need to have a “Godfather” or Sponsor who is willing to go to bat for you.
When I say you need a Godfather, I mean you need to have the support of a key power influencer inside the organization. This person might be 2 or 3 levels above you. He/she is well versed in organization politics and is well respected in the company and has a good track record promoting people on his team. When you are under the wing of an ambitious, influential and political senior leader, you will be well positioned for promotion.
3. You need to work on your executive presence
When I say “executive presence”, it doesn’t mean you have to talk like a CEO or VP. What I mean is that you need to carry yourself with a presence that is consistent with higher level people in your company. You need to demonstrate your leadership fit and influence within the organization. How do you establish “executive presence”? Model after one or more senior leaders in your company. Observe and study their ways. Schedule some time to meet with them, share ideas, show yourself as an emerging leader.
4. Excel in your current role
No organization is 100% meritocracy. However, stellar performance will help in getting you noticed. Reach out for help on projects if you need it. And make sure you and your team get credit for all your hard work. This will also help in establishing your credibility and influence in the organization.
5. Make your boss more successful.
No matter how well connected you are, your boss still has a lot of control over you. He/she will be writing your reviews and recommending you on future projects. Technically your boss is the one person who can promote you. So you need to make yourself indispensable by helping them look good by executing on projects successfully.
My job is helping employees get promoted to shape a new group of corporate leaders who are successful. If you would like more information, please contact me.