Be yourself, not a work impostor

June 17, 2007

Q:  My supervisor insists that to get promoted to the senior executive level I have to increase my visibility by blowing my own horn. I find that self-serving and offensive. How else can I advance?

A:  Don’t fake it to make it. Moulding yourself in order to gain a promotion is short-sighted and may have long-term consequences. Any behaviours you adopt solely to achieve a promotion will surely be expected of you once you win the position. It can also infect you with a chronic case of Impostor Syndrome. The key symptom is incessant questioning of whether you rightfully deserve your new title.

Catching the attention of key decision-makers by maintaining your personal integrity is far more compelling.

Pioneers and risk-takers get noticed. Take a leadership role in projects with significant impact, that are leading-edge or resolve some long-standing pain in the organization. Leverage your strengths and abilities by taking on roles that highlight them.

Results speak volumes. It is impossible to overlook someone who continually brings measurable benefits to the table.

Know your own terms and present your viewpoint with confidence. Demonstrate executive presence by standing for what you believe in. At the same time, welcome others’ contributions by incorporating their input. Be an inspiring leader. Support and empower others’ success. They will be your greatest allies.

Focus on bringing relevant and meaningful added value to everything you do. Visibility and recognition will be a natural byproduct.

Originally printed in The Province,  June 17, 2007.

A bruised ego won’t kill you

March 4, 2007

Q: I was passed over for a promotion in favour of a less-qualified candidate. I’m furious, insulted and feel like quitting. How do I face my humiliation?

A: Being rejected, overlooked or even wronged can be agonizing, but no one has ever died of a bruised ego. Leaving the company will mean enduring yet another application process without a track record to capitalize on. Your greatest victory can still be with your current employer if you take these steps:

  • Get over it. Take a limited amount of time to be angry and nurse your ego back to health. Purge your negative feelings so you can convert the pain into a gain.
  • Get back in the game. Like Olympians, true winners evaluate where they excelled and where they can improve. Schedule a meeting with the decision maker(s). This takes courage, but demonstrates your determination, commitment and passion. Acknowledge the winner. Do not dispute the selection process; instead, be curious and seek feedback.
  • Get the gold. No Olympian trains in isolation. Enlist a mentor and supporters to keep you motivated and moving forward on your plan. Build visibility with decision-makers by reporting on your key accomplishments. Solicit and integrate their feedback.

You are positioning yourself to step into the promotion should the new candidate not work out, to be considered for other upcoming roles or even to have a position created especially for you.

Originally printed in The Province on March 4, 2007.

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