5 Behaviors That Keep You From Getting Promoted

I run into them in every company I work with. Solid managers with real contributions. They work hard, they’re incredibly loyal, and they’ve been on the succession planning list forever. Much of the time they even have an MBA…AND they’re stuck. The promotions come and go. They’ve heard the pep talk so many times they can recite it in their sleep.

5 Behaviors That Keep You From Getting Promoted

Of course, there’s no easy way to know what’s holding any individual back. But I’ve done enough diagnosing, supporting, and helping to transform careers over the years that I’ve seen some consistent patterns. Don’t get stuck in these common traps.

  1. Relentless Self Promotion
    The minute people begin to think you’re more interested in your career than the organization’s mission you’re sunk. Do great work, find a sponsor, and stop tooting your own horn.
  2. Non Stop Energy
    Everyone loves a go-getter, do-it-all-fast kind of guy–at the frontline and middle manager level. But the time I spend in the C-Suites across a variety of industries reinforces what I’ve believed for a long time. Energy and intensity are great, but if you want to play with the big guys project an aura of calm, cool-headed control.
  3. Keeping Your Head Down
    You’re so focused on your team and your team’s results you miss the bigger picture. Work on strengthening your peripheral vision.
  4. Competing With Peers
    Real leadership takes more than being consistently at the top of the stack rank. Winning Well leaders know the important balance of results AND relationships. If it’s unlikely your peers will want to crack open some bubbly with you when you get that big promotion, chances are you may never get the chance to know.
  5. Inability to Let it Go
    Tenacity is one thing. But as they say, when the horse is dead, get off. Sometimes the answer is no, and you need to let it go. Winning Well leaders learn when to keep trying and when it’s time to move on (at least for the time being).

The Inspiration For This Post

One of my favorite clients has been using my Results That Last: 7 Roles Every Manager Must Master  program as the foundation for his mentoring circle work. Each week, they go through one module together, discuss the content and tools, and then they each go off and do the exercise with their teams before meeting again to review the next module.

Sometimes he brings in internal executives as guest speakers who are particularly good in the role they will be discussing that day. He’s also doing the 360 degree feedback tool twice, once at the beginning and once at the end of the program. I love the approach, and he’s seen a significant lift in business metrics. (If you want to learn more how you can use the course in this way, or other creative approaches, please call me on 443.750.1249.)

 As various questions comes up, he’s been batting them my way for additional perspective. I was intrigued by the one that came up last week.

 If we were coaching a person that has been a supervisor or leader for 10 plus years … What has held them back?  What characteristics have they been missing or overlooked? What haven’t they done that others have?  (The road map is not paved or golden? Or is it?)

More about my online courses can transform your results

Frontline Festival: Leaders Share Ideas about How to Take a Break

Welcome back to the Let’s Grow Leaders Frontline Festival. This month’s festival gives tips about taking a break from work. Thanks to Joy and Tom Guthrie of Vizwerx Group for the great pic and to all our contributors!

Next month’s Frontline Festival is all about productivity-enhancing workspaces.  There are two ways to participate…either submit a blog post on the topic, or your 1-2 sentence answer to the question. Click here to participate! Now on to our topic for July:

Beth Beutler of H.O.P.E. Unlimited makes it a practice to take a break every week by planning her workflow to avoid work on weekends. Her goal is to have all business work done by noon on Fridays, using a Friday afternoon bowling league as a marker for the start of the weekend mindset. Saturdays and Sundays are reserved for other healthy pursuits like fellowship with her husband and friends, exercise, church, reading, etc. with occasional non-business-related projects sprinkled in. Follow Beth.

Chip Bell of the Chip Bell Group  is inspired by Truett Cathy, founder of Chick-fil-A, who wrote “Fall in love with what you do and you will never work another day in your life.” Chip says: “My brother retired a few years ago and hunts almost every day.  I asked him when he was going to retire from hunting (he has two full freezers of venison and wild turkey). Even when vacationing in foreign countries, I spend the first hour of every day doing what I love–working!”  Follow Chip.

Wally Bock of Three Star Leadership shares that we call short periods of downtime “breaks.” We call longer periods “time off” or “vacation” in his post, “Take a Break.”  Follow Wally.

According to Michelle Cubas, CPCC, ACC, of Positive Potentials, LLC, the old saying of “live to eat or eat to live” attempts to temper our appetites. She contends we exchange the word “eat” for “work” to see where the American culture heads when it comes to work. Follow Michelle.

The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.
~ Saint Augustine

Eric Dingler of EricDingler.com   places blocks of time on his weekly calendar that can be moved around, but not deleted.  One of these blocks is “day off.” Another daily approach is 30-minutes of “me time,” which he always adjusts his alarm clock to accommodate.  Follow Eric.

Chris Edmonds of Driving Results through Culture tells about a time his family created great shared memories, and ties it in to how similar activities can help your workplace culture. Follow Chris.

David Grossman of The Grossman Group has mastered how to leave email at the office when on vacation, and shares six steps to help you do the sameFollow David.

For Mike Henry of MikeHenrySr.com the breaks come when he can focus on being with people face-to-face. Maybe it is time with his wife discussing our future, or time playing with his grand children, or talking with his Mom or having breakfast with a friend. Focusing on people takes him out of the tasks and To Do lists and lets him freeze time to focus on someone else, and their needs and interests.  Follow Mike.

John Hunter of Curious Cat Management Improvement  thinks vacations and breaks are so important that he has designed his life so that they are a built in part of his normal process, Financial Independence Retire Early (FIRE) and Location Independent Working. He has also enjoyed vacations at national parks and shares photos here.  He also finds that weekly vigorous exercise (like basketball) helps keep him in a good frame of mind. Follow John.

Laughter is an instant vacation.
~ Milton Berle

According to Paula Kiger of Perspicacity so many of us get caught up in the web of being available 24/7, especially when it comes to our electronics. When I did a silent retreat, I took a forced break from that habit and was reminded of the power of turning everything off, even briefly. Follow Paula.

Paul LaRue of The UPwards Leader asks: How does a leader make vacation meaningful and refreshing? By following these tips leading up to itFollow Paul.

Eileen McDargh of The Energizer reminds us that the American work ethic may not be ethical.  Studies have found that while most Americans would choose more vacation time over a higher salary, the reality is that we don’t take advantage of time off. Follow Eileen

Robyn McLeod of Thoughtful Leaders Blog  presents Why stepping away may be your best leadership move yet. Taking a break gives you the opportunity to rethink your current approaches, making time for the pursuits you love, and committing to more thoughtful and intentional actions once you return.  Follow Robyn.

The ant is knowing and wise, but he doesn’t know enough to take a vacation.
~ Clarence Day

Learn about four reasons why taking vacation breaks can help us to become a more effective leader for our team and organization. Thanks, Tanveer Naseer of Tanveer Naseer Leadership  Follow Tanveer.

Molly Page of Thin Difference  asks, “Do you ever feel like you’re too valuable to your business to take time off? Here are three reasons to set your mind at ease and schedule a break.” Follow Molly.

The number one thing that helps Julie Pierce of Valley Creek Church unplug when she’s on vacation is deleting the apps that keep her connected with work. That way she’s not tempted to check email or project boards. She justs re-install them the day I return to the office. Follow Julie.

Shelley Row of Shelley Row Associates has found that miniature breaks by simply closing her eyes are very helpful and enhance her leadership. Follow Shelley

John Thurlbeck of Wear Consulting says, “I have this perfectly balanced – in favor of vacations! Why? We all need to remember we are not invincible, nor irreplaceable, and we are certainly not robots! We need time to think, reflect, recharge and re-connect – with ourselves, our spouses/partners, our families and our friends. Work is an important part of our lives, but it should not be our life! Follow John. 

Quote source: Brainyquote.com

Losing Well: 7 Questions to Ask When You Don't Get the Win

A Winning Well post with David Dye

In a recent Winning Well interview, Bob Morris asked “You talk about Winning Well, but what does it mean to lose well? David and I both laughed the kind of half-hearted chuckle that comes only after enough distance from the pain.

And as timing would have it, I’ve recently been helping both of my children process through disappointing losses on the college political front and the baseball field.

The truth is, you can’t win well, without losing well–repeatedly. If you’re not losing some of the time, you’re not winning.

Getting good at resilience and recovery is all part of the Winning Well game.

As we answered his questions, we began sharing stories of times we’d lost, and had to rally our teams in the midst of severe disappointment.

7 Questions to Ask When You Don’t Win–This Time

“I never thought of losing, but now that it’ s happened, the only thing is to do it right. That’s my obligation to all the people who believe in me. We all have to take defeats in life.” -Muhammad Ali

As with most leadership challenges, there’s hardly a better strategy for helping your team lose well than asking great questions. Here are a few questions to get you started.

  1. What are we feeling now and why? 
    Chances are this will be met with crickets–wait for it. Linger. Discuss. Process. Shut the door. Allow emotion. Before you open the door. It’s okay to share that you’re disappointed too, but do your best to role model a calm exploration and discussion of your feelings.
  2. What are we most proud of?
    Even the worst defeats generally come with moments of success, smart plays, and even ingenious effort. Help your team to step back and celebrate the elements of good.
  3. What must we do to show up as gracious losers?
    In order to win well the next time, it’s so important to not show up as bad sports. Help your team brainstorm the most important behaviors here. Perhaps it’s a congratulatory phone call or two, or a simple offering of “How can I help?” Remember Winning Well is a marathon.
  4. What can we learn here?
    This is the most important question, but resist the urge to jump in and start with this one. You’ll get better thinking if you start with 1 and 2.
  5. How can we invest in (and build bridges with) the winners?
    Our current political arena gives us plenty of examples of how to do this well–and how to screw it up.
  6. How do we stay focused on our MIT (Most Important Thing)?
    You may have lost a battle, but don’t give up on your bigger vision. This is a vital question to as before the final question…
  7. What’s next?
    It’s not over. Help your team craft a clear path forward.

When you’re the most frustrated, chances are, so is your team. Most situations get better with conversation.


5 Reasons You're Avoiding Your "I Don't Wanna" List (and what to do about it)

David Dye and I do truly strive to lead by example. So I wasn’t shocked the other day when my Winning Well co-author leveraged a practice straight out of chapter 20, thanking me for something I’d done to promote our Winning Well mission.

And then, hearkening back to chapter 7 (accountability), I laughed and said, “If I were really a good co-author I would have done ________ .” (it really doesn’t matter what this is, as I will here pull a Scarlett Ohara, and be sure to worry about that tomorrow).

David didn’t miss a beat, and said, “Oh I get it. It’s on your ‘I don’t wanna list.'”

Deep pause. It was. The next vital question was, ‘Why? Why was it there? What was the resistance? Why did I agree to do something I was avoiding?

5 Reasons You’re Avoiding Your “I Don’t Wanna” List (and what to do about it).

“The more important a call to action is to our soul’s evolution, the more Resistance we will feel about answering it. But to yield to Resistance deforms our spirit. It stunts us and makes us less than we are and were born to be.” – Steven Pressfield

In my experience there are five big  reasons something ends up on our “I Don’t Wanna List.” I’d love to hear what you would add.

  1. It’s a Damn Stupid Idea:  You hate the idea and everything around it. You’re against it at a core values level. The only thing dumber than putting this on your permanent avoid list, would be to actually cave.
    Next Step: Time to person-up. Use your words. Share your feelings. Before you do anything stupid, say what you mean– chances are any stupid idea attracts a swarm of naysayers just ready to buzz. Speak up. Others will follow.
  2. Your Values Say NO!!!! It’s a good idea in theory, but something about your values say “no.”
    Next Step: Listen to your heart… with an open mind. If it’s a real values clash– say so, and then be open to further explaining your rationale or removing yourself from the scene.
  3. You’re Annoyed: But it’s got to be done. We all have tasks that drive us crazy, but sometimes you’ve just got to do them.
    Next Step: Resist the urge to save them all for later. Knock out a few such tasks early in the day while you’re fresh.
  4. You’re Scared: Perhaps you’re afraid of screwing it up. Or maybe you’re worried about what others will think.
    Next Step: Consider what’s the worst thing that could happen. Chances are it’s not as bad as you think.
  5. You’re Stuck: You really don’t know what to do next
    Next Step: Ask yourself the Winning Well secret bonus question, “What would you do if you did know?” Let go of the pressure and brainstorm possible solutions with confidence.

We all have tasks we would rather avoid…. but when you can develop the discipline to know what must be done, and make it happen, you boost your energy and confidence for your Winning Well mission.

the winning well modelHave you taken our FREE Winning Well self-assessment? If not, click here. You can also download our FREE Winning Well toolkit.

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