So which exercise do you prefer – push-ups or pull-ups? Push-ups are so basic and easy. Back in my “in shape” days it was no problem to knock out a hundred or so in a shot. Pull-ups? They can be a bear. The funny thing is, in business, push-ups are much harder to do. Of course I’m speaking about two ways to get promoted.
As usual, I’m speaking in tongues. I’ll explain, but first let me set some context. Many folks spend a lot of time figuring out how to get promoted into that next role. They do a great job of goal setting and execute the plan in an exemplary way. Despite all this, the promotion proves elusive. At that point, they start wondering what they need to do to get to the next level. Their three options become clear: wait (not attractive), do a pull-up, or do a push-up.
Clearly waiting isn’t exactly the long suit of someone seeking out a long awaited promotion. Over time, that strategy becomes frustrating and eventually they’ll depart the organization in search of greener pastures.
Let’s keep things simple and take the waiting approach off the table because if you’re reading this blog, you’re probably a real go-getter.
The second (and unfortunately, most common) approach to getting promoted is the pull-up. That’s where you find individuals higher in the corporate hierarchy and start kissing butt. You’ll ingratiate yourself, pick up ugly little projects no one else wants, and generally become a corporate posterior kisser. In the army, we called this being the SLJO (S&/##% Little Job Officer). (As a funny aside – as I looked for photos for this post and Googled “Pull-ups” I got toddler diapers. The Internet can be a funny place).
Like presidential candidates, if you kiss enough babies (or in this case, butts) you’ll eventually get what you think you want – the long-awaited promotion (and some extra bling). All that kissing is sure to get you noticed. And one magical day someone will reach down from on high and pull you up into the realm of the corporate overlords.
The problem is you’ll become despised by your peers and your people alike in the process. If you do it too much, you’ll become the sycophant I discuss in bad office behaviors to kill. The good news is you can use all that extra promotion cash to get your car refinished after your coworkers key it.
This is my recommended course of action. You build your team’s capabilities so much and get so many of them promoted on their merits that eventually you leave the organization no option other than to promote you. Envision you’re a director and all your reports are managers. Over time, you get all of them promoted to director by expanding their skills. You take a chance on them. If everyone working for you eventually becomes a director, the odds of you getting promoted to VP go up exponentially.
Create a reputation as a leader who stands up for their team. Be the one person in the organization everyone wants to work for because you’re willing to stand up to “upstairs” while praising and encouraging your team. Be authentic. Thank your people for everything they do for you. Know them as INDIVIDUALS and treat them as such (yes I know I’ve gone a little hyperlink happy but we have a ton of new readers who would do well to go read some of this stuff. For those of you who have already read it, it doesn’t hurt to have a refresher – leadership never goes out of style).
Do all these things and eventually your team will push you up to the next level. Everyone will know you deserve it. They’ll be thrilled to attend your promotion party. The thing is, under the push-up approach you’ll find the real reward isn’t the promotion – it’s the growth of the people on your team and your personal growth as a leader. And you can’t put a price on that.
- Mike Figliuolo at thoughtLEADERS, LLC