Working towards securing a promotion in the near future? As leadership consultant Jane Benston explains, it is important to position yourself for what you want.
“Purely working hard and doing a good job is just the beginning,” she says. “To get the more senior leadership roles, a new way of thinking is required. You need to be more strategic, more intentional, and position yourself to be considered for the best opportunities.”
Here, Jane shares seven steps you can take to help position yourself for your next big role.
1. Get career clarity
Jane has coached many women in business who had experienced career success along the way, but found themselves in a place where they wanted to take that next step. The problem was that many of them lacked the clarity and direction they needed to do so.
“Through determining where they wanted to head and learning how to position themselves effectively, these women snapped up new and exciting opportunities – often much more quickly than they thought would be possible,” Jane says.
The expert recommends starting with what you do know for certain. For example, do you want to lead a big team or just a few highly skilled people? What type of products or service are most interesting to you? What new skills or experience do you ideally want to be exposed to in the next position?
“If you don't have clarity on where you are going, it's very likely you will end up some place you would rather not be,” Jane says.
2. Do great work
This might seem obvious, but Jane stresses it still needs to be said. “You will only get promoted if you do great work,” she says. “Why on earth would anyone trust you to manage a bigger role if you aren’t managing your current role well, all of the time?”
3. Stay on the radar
Doing good work is important, but as Jane explains, it is also vital to be seen, heard and recognised for it. “Flying under the radar and purely working hard is not enough,” she says. "You need to speak up in meetings and let your opinion be heard,” Jane says.
If the opportunity presents itself, the expert recommends getting involved in high-profile projects where you can showcase your skills to a broader group of people. Whatever you do, “make sure you let others know of your accomplishments – in an authentic, non-sales-y way,” Jane says.
4. Build positive relationships
As Jane explains, building strategic relationships and networking with fellow colleagues and industry peers can help you access new opportunities. “Making the time to meet up with key people, either within your organisation or externally, is a critical step,” she says. “Ask yourself, who do you know who could assist you to secure your next position? Do they know what your career ambitions actually are?”
5. Balance short-term and long-term thinking
“Too often I see smart, successful women getting caught up in the day-to-day and forgetting to flex their long-term strategic muscle,” Jane says. Feel like you’ve lost sight of the bigger picture? Jane recommends reacquainting yourself with your workplace’s top priorities and long-term goals (and making sure you are seen to be contributing to them!)
6. Enhance your executive presence
“To be considered for an executive position, you must be seen as an executive,” Jane says. The way you interact with others, be it around the office, in meetings or in the tearoom, can have a significant impact on this.
“Developing your executive presence might mean giving your wardrobe an overhaul, dropping the desire to gossip, or learning how to work smarter, not harder, so you appear calm and in control of your workload,” Jane adds.
7. Be intentional and stay focused
It’s one thing to dream of getting a promotion, but another to strategically work towards the role you want. “Gone are the days that you can wait to be ‘tapped on the shoulder’,” Jane says. “Create a plan and get clear on the actions and changes you will implement to fast-track your progress.”