Are you ready to take the next step in your leadership career, but unsure of how to do it? When my coaching clients find themselves in this position, they’re usually confident in their leadership abilities and able to visualize themselves filling the role they desire. So what’s holding them back?
A common problem that I’ve seen both in my career as an executive and also with my clients is that other leaders don’t see you as a strategic contributor. You may be doing everything right when you’re engrossed in your work, but you’re inadvertently creating barriers with your communication style, casual interactions, personal appearance, or other subtleties that you’re missing.
What snapshot comes to mind when other leaders think of you? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been a part of a conversation like this:
Senior leader: I see that Taylor was nominated for a promotion, but I just don’t think she’s ready.
Me: Well, when’s the last time you worked with her?
Senior leader: Hmm. It’s been a couple of years, but I remember she didn’t seem to understand the big picture of our business.
The problem here is that Taylor has worked on improving her leadership competencies, but she hasn’t shown the senior leader that she now has the needed skillset.
Senior leaders tend to have a mental snapshot of you. They base their decisions about your career on that mental image—even if it’s outdated. When’s the last time you updated your snapshot in a critical leader’s mind?
Here are a few ideas to get you thinking about the way others perceive you as a leader:
- What does your calendar look like? Are you rushing into meetings late or distracted? Put 15 minutes between each appointment and show up prepared.
- Where are you spending your time each day? Are tasks that are not important and not urgent eating away at your working hours or personal time? Consider whether you’ve arranged your life to allow you to focus on your priorities.
- How do you handle casual interactions with senior leaders? When they ask how you’re doing, do you tell them how busy and frazzled you are? Come up with a few recent success stories that you can quickly share next time you take an elevator ride with the CEO.
- What do the successful officers and leaders in your company look like? Is your physical appearance at odds with theirs? You don’t have to become a spitting image of the leadership team, but you do need to consider whether your clothing and grooming are taking attention away from your leadership abilities.
These ideas are a brief sample of what you’ll learn in my upcoming book, which is due out later this summer. If you’d like to keep learning and growing your strategic capabilities, please click here to be notified of future updates.