“I think everyone should experience defeat at least once during their career. You learn a lot from it.”
~ Lou Holtz ~
Anne had done well to climb the ranks in a cut-throat male-dominated industry. However, she was stuck at the position of “manager” for four long years. She was passed up for a promotion for the third time. Whenever she reached out to management and inquired about what she needed to do to get promoted, she was considerately told that she was doing all the right things and the only thing holding back her advancement was a financial constraint.
However, people around her seemed to be getting promoted left, right and center. Disgruntled, Anne decided to confide in Scott, a senior executive whom she had built a positive relationship with over the years. His candid advice: “You just don’t have the executive presence needed to fit a bigger role.”
Although Anne was unsure as to what Scott meant, she respected him and decided to consult with a leading executive coach to figure out what she needed to do.
Anne and her coach worked out a plan to build Anne’s executive presence that would help her to get a promotion.
Here are three key areas that Anne needed to work on:
- Positioning herself for greater visibility. Even though Anne might have been deserving of quite a few promotions, she discovered she was being passed over simply because she never articulated her value to top management. Being overly humble was not helping her. She started positioning herself for greater visibility by volunteering for high-profile assignments across the organization and speaking up at meetings.
- Building influence. Although Anne had built positive relationships at work, what she hadn’t done was build influential relationships with top authorities who could have had a direct hand in helping her get ahead. Anne started connecting with her boss’s boss and other executives directly involved in the projects she was working on and let them know the role she was playing in the projects’ success.
- Improving her perception. In all these years if there’s one thing Anne had neglected the most it was her personal image. Anne learned that to improve her perception she had to walk the walk and talk the talk of the job she wanted, not the one she currently had. This meant asserting herself at work, dressing for the part, and not downplaying the recognition she received for doing a good job.
It took Anne eight months to get her act together, but it was worth it. With the help of her coach, Anne got promoted to the position of “Director”. She continues to improve her perception, build influential relationships, and garner visibility in her aim to climb even higher up the corporate ladder. Her new career goal: vice president!
If you’re looking for more tips on how to get a promotion, you might like to read a recent interview of mine published on the CBS News website titled, “3 steps to getting your next promotion.”
Talkback: Have you ever been passed over for a promotion? What did you learn from the experience? Please tell us about it in the comments below.
<ahref=”http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/view_photog.php?photogid=1499″ class=”small”>Image: Ambro / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
“Our business in life is not to get ahead of others, but to get ahead of ourselves—to break our own records, to outstrip our yesterday by our today.”
~ Stewart B. Johnson ~
Although hard work, experience, leadership, and your ability to influence others are all key factors in getting promoted, executive presence is often the factor that separates the great employees from the exceptional. Executive presence can mean the difference between sitting stagnant on one rung of the corporate ladder or quickly climbing past your co-workers. There are three excellent ways to develop this distinctive quality: building a strong personal brand, stepping outside your comfort zone, and recruiting influential advocates to support you.
I discuss these three methods in my recent guest blog post, “3 Killer Ways to Build Your Executive Presence,” for Diane Craig’s Corporate Class Inc., a leading image and etiquette consultant company that has been advising Fortune 500 companies for more than twenty years. In my post, I discuss how building your brand helps you set yourself apart from your co-workers and establishes you as an expert your employer will value. I also explain how risk-taking isn’t just for leaders, but further establishes you as the employee who goes the extra mile for your organization. By the time you’re done reading this post, you’ll have a better understanding of how important strategic relationships are to your career and job advancement.
With these methods, you’ll gain more organizational recognition, become more influential and have strong allies in your corner. Through the development of executive presence, you will be a driver of change who creates innovative solutions and positively impacts your company’s growth and success. Each of these factors will transform you from a great employee to an exceptional employee your organization will be eager to promote.
Joel Garfinkle is a personal leadership coach who has helped develop effective leaders in many top companies. He has worked with clients at Shell Chemicals, Eli Lilly, Coldwell Banker, and dozens of other leading businesses in the US and worldwide.
Guest post by Diane Craig : President and founder of Corporate Class Inc., Diane has been on a 30-year journey as an image expert. She has consulted with political leaders and celebrities and prepped guests of royal families. Popular for her corporate lunch and learn sessions, her expertise is sought by Fortune 500 companies, universities, media, and North America’s top business schools.
Meet Susan. A director within a multi-national organization, Susan was clear about her career goal: Vice President. Despite two openings, Susan had not been invited to apply. “My boss,” she said, “told me I need to enhance my executive presence, but I’m not sure what that is.”
When Susan approached me for help, she looked about ten years older than she was, and academic–meaning more likely to be found on a campus than in a boardroom. Over the phone, Susan came across as warm and friendly. This jelled with her enthusiasm to begin EP training, so we got started.
Clothing Plays a Pivotal Role
Let’s face it, people form their impressions of us based on our appearance. Whether this is right or wrong doesn’t matter, it’s just a fact of life. Susan developed a more polished approach to dressing. It was a process, not an extreme makeover, and as Susan’s new look unfolded she was obviously enjoying the results. The mere act of walking into a room showcased Susan’s new style. She made an impact. Although Susan’s education and training provided a distinct advantage, her lack of executive presence had kept her off the fast-track of corporate life.
Tip #1: Becoming more self-aware of your appearance is a great first step toward building executive presence.
Intensive Communication Training
Susan focused on how to effectively communicate to help her stand out, to be recognized–and remembered. From basic body language to entering a room, posture, dining etiquette, handshake and eye contact, Susan discovered the nuances of conversational engagement and the precise forms of chairing a meeting. She learned how to secure involvement with targeted individuals or groups, how to develop partnerships, and how to gain effective responses through action and communication.
Tip #2: Using the right body language and communicating effectively with individuals and groups can be a “learned” skill. It’s never too late to start learning.
During the early stages of training, Susan had a wake-up-call. Like most high-potential people, Susan grasped that to be promoted, she needed to manage how she was perceived and that she was missing out on promotions not because of lack of competence for what she was doing, but for lack of skill around how she was doing it. Susan had captured the essence of executive presence in a single sentence. She was on her way.
No doubt, if this post were a Hollywood script, Susan would be promoted to VP but the fact remains that although we all like happy endings, corporate life isn’t a fairy tale. Suffice to say, last month Susan was invited to apply for a more senior position. What are you doing to build your executive presence?