Think twice when you’re told you need to work on “leadership” or gain more “seasoning.” These can be code words masking more specific concerns, like a failure to demonstrate strategic thinking or an inability to delegate.
In most organizations, promotions are governed by unwritten rules—the often fuzzy, intuitive, and poorly expressed feelings of senior executives regarding individuals’ ability to succeed in C-suite positions.
Nonnegotiables are the fundamental factors without which an executive will not be considered for promotion.
Deselection factors are characteristics that eliminate an otherwise qualified candidate from consideration. Core selection factors are what ultimately dictate promotion decisions.
Factors that are absolutely necessary for you to be a contender
- Demonstrating consistently strong performance
- Displaying ethics, integrity, and character
- Being driven to lead and to assume higher levels of responsibility
Characteristics that prevent you from being considered as a serious candidate
- Having weak interpersonal skills
- Treating others with insensitivity or abrasiveness
- Putting self-interest above company good
- Holding a narrow, parochial perspective on the business and the organization
Core Selection Factors
Capabilities that breed others’ confidence in your ability to succeed at the senior executive level
•Setting direction and thinking strategically; spotting marketplace trends and developing a winning strategy
that differentiates the company
•Building and continually upgrading a strong executive team; having a “nose for talent”; establishing an adequate
level of team cohesion
•Managing implementation without getting involved at too low a level of detail; defining a set of roles, processes,
and measures to ensure that things get done reliably
•Building the capacity for innovation and change; knowing when new ways of doing business are required; having
the courage, tolerance for risk, and change-management skills to bring new ideas to fruition
•Getting things done across internal boundaries (lateral management); demonstrating organization savvy; influencing
and persuading colleagues; dealing well with conflict
•Growing and developing as an executive; soliciting and responding to feedback; adjusting leadership style in
light of experience
When asking for input, project a sincere desire to understand what’s holding you back—and avoid appearing to lobby or argue. Your core question should be “What skills and capabilities do I need to demonstrate in order to be a strong
candidate for higher levels of responsibility at some point in the future?”
Keep in mind that changing deep-seated perceptions about you, formed over years, requires visible and consistent effort
[via HBR Why You Didn’t Get That Promotion by John Beeson]