Being the change


I often find mid-level organizational leaders frustrated because they haven’t had the promotion they think they deserve. If you are one of those, you may understand that there may be many reasons for this dilemma that are out of your control. However, there is one common reason that you can act upon now that is overlooked:

Important “others” need to see you as already performing at the next level before you get that promotion.

Being ready for the next promotion in the eyes of those who have the ability to make it a reality means they must be able to visualize you in that role. To envision you there, they need to see you exhibiting the behaviors for the new role now, in your current position. In other words, you have demonstrate your ability to handle what’s next – now.

You’ll essentially need to act “as if” you’re already there in order be credible enough to get there. This requires you to stretch your leadership to the next level.

To start, set aside some time to do some “visioning” of your own. Consider the following ways to help you to begin to coach yourself and form your vision of yourself in your next role:

What behaviors do I see the leaders that I admire doing? A great way to start is to observe the behaviors of other leaders in the organization who are in senior leadership positions. What do you see them doing that you admire? Which of those things would you like to try doing more of?

What will others observe me doing? Imagine your manager or skip-level manager observing you. If you’d really like to be bold, imagine the CEO watching you. What do they see you doing? Make a list of these attributes and associated behaviors, and pick one or two to start practicing.

What will I feel when I am acting “as if” I’m in the position? Your emotional reaction to your own behaviors is important. I find this is the hardest question to answer because we often don’t put words to what we’re feeling. Do you feel confident? Are the behaviors authentic? Are you happy and engaged?

How are others reacting to your new behaviors? Observing others’ reactions is an important activity. What do you see others doing when you are acting “as if”? Are their immediate reactions what you want to see? What subsequent actions do you see in them as a result of the changes you’ve made in yourself?

What new behaviors are natural and comfortable to me? Every leader brings their own personality to their style of leadership. It’s important that you feel comfortable that the new behaviors you are practicing are in keeping with your natural “way of being”. Sometimes that requires practice, but sometimes the behaviors you try just aren’t the right ones for you. If you’ve tried them on and they don’t fit, go back to the drawing board to find some that do.

Finally, make sure you have any support and the feedback you need. How can others around you help? Your manager is a great place to start; they just might be impressed by your willingness and drive to grow and develop yourself.


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Mary Jo Asmus is the founder and President of Aspire Collaborative Services LLC, an executive coach, writer, internationally recognized thought leader, and a consultant who partners with organizations of all kinds to develop and administer coaching programs. She has “walked in your shoes” as a former leader in a Fortune company.


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