Where Leaders Come to Think

Waiting In Line

The Secret Behind Earning That Promotion


Early on in my professional career I noticed a pattern regarding promotions at work. It caught me off guard how much earning a promotion resembles receiving an invitation to an exclusive event. No matter when I showed up I had to contend with a few lines.

The first line is for those who have invitations in hand – they are the invited. Often, you hear these people referred to as “fast-trackers,” “management trainees”, or “full of potential.” It’s common for them to walk right into the party.

The other, longer line, is composed of those less fortunate. Without an invitation the “slow-trackers” are shuffled aside to the other line – they are the uninvited.

These second line leaders represent the majority. Personally speaking I have waited in both lines at varying times in my career. It’s normal, and every situation surrounding a promotion is different.

If you’re feeling uninvited to the party or want to excel when you do get invited read further and discover the secret behind earning that promotion.

First, take a deep breath and don’t panic. I’m about to share a little secret that the invited do not want you to hear. This secret is a game changer, and a great way for you to advance your career.

The secret behind getting promoted is this: Only in rare instances is there a big difference between the invited and uninvited.

Normally, what separates the lines isn’t things like intellect, ability or charisma. Rather, it’s a person’s ability to influence others making a positive impact in the workplace. Influence isn’t inherited or genetic, rather it’s a free attribute all of us can discover.  If you think about it – knowing influence is a learned behavior is really great news.

Anyone can get invited to a promotion by understanding the four simple leadership principles of an Everyday Champion. Since influence is leadership in every case understanding these principles will help you get promoted faster, and be more effective when you arrive at the next level.

4 Simple Leadership Principles of an Everyday Champion:

Learn like a House on Fire

Like School House Rock reminds us all – “knowledge is power.” Take life-long learning seriously and learn like your house is on fire, and you are the only one that can put it out.  How many career developing articles do you read per month that can directly effect your work performance? Are you taking advantage of all the educational materials available to you? If not, why?quote

Most likely the answer to this question is that you don’t have time. I highly encourage you to make the time – it is necessary to fill any knowledge gaps at work you may have. Don’t you think the people around you deserve to interact with the best version of you? This learning will also have a positive effect on your personal, spiritual and professional development. There are No boundaries while learning – just learn!

Action Item: Write down a personal learning objective you will strive to hit this month. Schedule intentional study times and make notes of important things learned in the process.

Share Everything you Learn

Be a river of information not a reservoir. Rivers flow down mountains and the water they carry begins with a trickle but continue to grow as they combine with other sources and create massive waterways. Reservoirs fill up and are greatly affected by the environment around them. Rivers swell and shrink but they keep on flowing.  Conversely reservoirs become stagnant at times only supporting life on the narrow limits of its banks.

Practically speaking don’t learn to store up important data in hopes that when you do advance your career you will use it then. As a coach, I have found that the most productive use of my learning is to offer it to those around me. I hold nothing back because I truly want the best for those I influence in big and small ways. The greatest influencers learn and share what is appropriate.  This advances the mission while allowing everyone to actively participate in the progress.

Warning: Don’t be an annoying Mr or Mrs Know It All. Be yourself and care about the growth of others.

Action Item: What’s the one thing you can share with someone else that by offering it will better equip them to succeed? Share it.

Forget Karma – it’s a lie

Defined, karma is the sum of a person’s actions viewed as deciding their fate in the future. It’s an informal creator of our destiny or fate, following as an effect from previous actions. Think of it this way – earning points towards a better future.

While I do believe that you get out of life what you put into it, I do not believe there is a universal law that states it must happen this way.

If you are doing something for someone so that you can build up points for yourself at a later date – you are wasting your time. (Unless you are in the mafia.)

Try giving freely without expectations. When you give in this manner, it allows others to grow. You move forward without harboring a lot of frustration because of broken, un-communicated expectations.

Action Item: Rather than giving to receive – give unconditionally because you care.

Invite the Uninvited

Let’s face it some people refuse to get in the line. Can you really blame them? Think about the last time someone came up to you and said, “Thanks for being a great leader.” It happens, but not often.

Leadership can be hard and many who would be great leaders refuse to participate at an official level. Seek them out and offer them your very best. Not only will their personal production increase you may awaken a sleeping giant.  As their personal production increases you can rest assured that the organizations bottom line will benefit.  In almost all worthy pursuits established leaders look to promote those who make others better.

Even the thought of waking the giant within someone is exciting. Investing in the personal growth and development of others is never a bad idea.

Action Item: Who can you invest into today that may not necessarily be looking for a promotion or an official leadership title? Go invest in that person.

The life of a leader has many lines. Get used to it. We wait for the right situation and take advantage of the right opportunities. But having a clear sense of the importance of influence will also make you ready to cross the red velvet rope of promotion.

Now go out there and earn that promotion!

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