Leadership Lesson: You were promoted. Why?

Published in the Phoenix Business Journal on February 8, 2019

Stepping up. What were the reasons? Perhaps it is a direct result of several positive factors: knowledge, demonstrated abilities, skills, behaviors, results. Or, was it the result other incidental factors (being liked, long-term service, or being one of the “in” people?

Find out. If it was the result of your positive, demonstrated capabilities, you know how to keep going. But if you “won” via the incidental factors, it might not last because sooner or later you must prove your abilities and results. 

“You have to be prepared for a promotion.” – Pat Riley, NBA basketball executive, former coach and player

Promotable skills and behaviors

Here are some common and valid reasons why people are promoted into higher levels of challenges, responsibility, and accountability:

Results: demonstrate achievements themselves, with and through others, are sought out to manage challenging tasks while exhibiting good personal qualities, goal driven.

Confidence: exude authenticity, are secure with themselves, pleasant, engaging, and can command a roomful of others.

Positive: seek solutions to difficult issues, bounce back though professional and personal challenges, believe that failure is part of greater success.

Perception: see both the wider macro view of things and into the narrower micro view of the same things, adept at turning plans into actions.

Learners: continuously seek and learn new things, spot obstacles as a way to expand their skills and behaviors, want challenges, bored with status quo.

Mentors: others want their advice, trusted by others, not always the most senior people, will take the time to wisely council others – even if they are not their employees.

Networkers: build relationships with many others (including outside the organization, maintain and nurture relationships, are generous givers of their time.

Which of the above skills and behaviors contributed to your most recent promotion?

Missed it

Why did you not get a promotion that you wanted? You might not have some necessary skills, behaviors, or attitudes. More:

Performance: a promotion is not based upon good performance in the role you have now. Instead, develop the skills needed in a new role that you desire.

Behaviors: you lack the soft skills needed for a new role. Communications capabilities, teamwork, a positive attitude, diplomacy are good examples.

Closed: you do not accept feedback, especially when it is meant to help you. You might feel that you have all the answers. You are not interested in learning new things.

Professionalism: acting as an adult, look for solutions to problems (not for others to complain to), don’t seek your managers approval – seek rewards for great performance.

Initiative: grab opportunities to solve problems or to advance great ideas, invite others to help you and give them credit, be known as a starter and a finisher.

Attitude: be a leader rather than a follower, learn leadership and management, view the importance of your role and results more than the importance of your paycheck.

Expectancy: not entitlement for a promotion, tell your leader that you want to be promoted, find out what it will take you to be ready. Ask!

People who are promoted, act like leaders, are prepared, and ask for more responsibility. 


Here are top companies that offer the best opportunities for promotions and why: https://www.businessinsider.com/25-best-companies-to-work-for-if-you-want-to-get-promoted-2013-10.

The bottom lines

Promoted? Find out why – or why not. Understand the skills and behaviors needed to be promoted. Make it know that you want to be promoted. Work in organizations that offer promotion opportunities. Step up.

Click here to read this article on the Phoenix Business Journal site.