If you are waiting for an opportunity to move up the leadership ladder, I have a question for you. Will you be ready when it gets here?
A Realtor friend of mine says that the biggest mistake that people make when selling their homes is failing to get their houses ready before they put them on the market.
Instead, they start to feel it’s time to look for something bigger or smaller or closer to downtown or out in the country or on the water (you get the idea), and they get busy looking.
A far better plan, according to my Realtor friend, is to get the house ship shape first. It has to show well to compete.
Getting a promotion is like that. Shopping the postings and the job boards is best done after you ready yourself for the race.
In addition to assessing your current skills and creating a plan for your leadership development. You’ll want to work on your executive presence.
Don’t mimic a CEO you’ve read about, admired or conceptualized in your mind. Personal authenticity is critical, so find your most natural way of walking, talking, dressing and interacting with others. If you try to act important, you will come across as arrogant. Think about how you want to be perceived, and aim for these qualities in everything you do.
Identify your core strengths and values. Write a brief description of yourself from the perspective of someone who has just met you. What would you like people to say about you? Start working on specific aspects of this ideal description to ensure they’re real. If you’re not expressing your values in the things you say, then maybe you’re fooling yourself about them.
Leave a long message on your voicemail, and play it back in a few days to get an idea of how you sound to a stranger. Note any aspects of your speech that you would like to change. You may not be aware of your vocal intonations and tics, which can add to or detract from how others perceive you.
Record a conversation with a friend on audio or video (with permission of course). Make sure it’s long enough so that you and your pal forget you’re being recorded. Study yourself and your friend’s reactions to jot down any habits or behaviors that contribute to or inhibit empathy, clarity, and authenticity.
Ask one or more close friends or colleagues to share their impressions about meeting you for the first time. Remind them to be brutally honest, and encourage them to offer insights into other aspects of your interactions—especially the areas that could be improved.
Review your discoveries with your coach or mentor. Ask for help. Practice. The change will take time, as personal habits in interacting with others are ingrained. After a while, however, you and your inner circle should begin to notice improvements. Never forget that polishing your interpersonal skills and executive presence is a lifelong journey.
Thinking about your possibilities for promotion can be exciting. I’m a big believer in setting goals and plans for the future, but before you start spending that bigger paycheck, you’ll want to take some time for some time to make sure you’ve got what it takes to get the job.
So, what do you think? If you are a Recruiter or HR Professional, we would love to hear your tips for getting ready for a promotion. Post your comments below.
If you are starting to get your own leadership ‘house’ in order, you will want to download the QUICK Leadership Development Assessment. It is a reflective tool that will help evaluate where you are now and assist you in crafting a plan for moving forward in your growth as a leader.
Author: Cathy Shaughnessy
Cathy Shaughnessy is a PRISM award winning ICF Master Certified Coach and author of the book series The Really Competent Coach. Cathy coaches senior leaders, mentors credentialed coaches, trains fledgling coaches and helps organizations build strong coaching cultures.