By Tino Mantella
TLG President & CEO
It’s a better than 50/50 bet that the best person doesn’t always get the promotion. This applies to the quiet, the loud, the bold, the shy, the remote worker, the poor dresser, the smartest person in the room, the one with little executive presence, the woman or man with no gravitas. Or maybe the prospect is just too much like the decision maker or not enough like him or her. At the end of the day, there is just something about the employee that the boss doesn’t like. Over my career, on hundreds of occasions, I have found myself scratching my head. How the heck, did they pick him over her? Why the heck did they go outside to hire a person when that person knows nothing about the company and there are five great people that I could put in that job right now that would perform admirably? Unfortunately, there are also discrimination issues, but that’s not what I am addressing in this article.
You might think from the above paragraph that I am totally blaming the person accountable for hiring for less-than-optimal decisions. In part, training is necessary for the hirer, but it’s not all their fault. The person looking to be recognized must take equal responsibility, at a minimum. Bias aside, have they acknowledged that they have work to do on themselves? Have they made an effort to be recognized or let people know they want to move higher or into a different role? Leaders are not generally mind readers. Sharing one’s aspirations is only half the battle. The bottom line is that we generally are not promised anything in life. We not only have to earn it, but we also must win it. It’s a competition for the most part.
Assessments and Advancement
Now let’s focus on the person desiring upward mobility. Does the person know what they need to do to be recognized and to be ready? The first step is for the person to understand themselves and how others perceive them. Leadership Development firms like Turknett Leadership Group can help in this area. The 360 assessment is a confidential and powerful tool that helps the recipient learn what others think or feel about them. Often there is a gap, up or down, between what a person thinks of themselves, and how others perceive them. Knowledge can be power and adding personality assessments along with the 360 helps the person look inward and outward, giving them a solid baseline. Having a personal development plan from one’s learnings can be a potent recipe for advancement. Adding a mentor, sponsor, and/or a coach also helps immensely.
It’s Not Over Until It’s Over
Great people get passed over and overlooked all the time, but on the other hand, I have seen many people, once given their shot, become exceptional leaders.
To hiring decision makers – look carefully at what you have and be sure you are hiring for the right reasons. To those that want a new opportunity – it’s not about being passed over but about what you can do to be ready when the right gig comes along. The race isn’t always won by the swift, as they say, and you could be holding the keys to your dream job in your hands!