I often share the story of a coaching client, whose career had plateaued.
She was working with a financial services company in Europe.
She had been recruited and marked out as high potential talent. Her first few
promotions had happened quickly. Now approaching three years since her last
promotion, nothing was happening.
He output was still incredible, her ability to manage relationships exceptional. She was still being told that she had tremendous potential. But there was no sign of the next promotion.
From our coaching sessions, she developed a strategy. She was going to speak with her manager and say something along the lines of ‘I’ve been thing about my next career move, this is what I believe is the next right move for both me and the business…here’s what I need to get there’.
She phoned me after the meeting. “Dawn, you won’t believe what happened! I opened with ‘I’ve been thinking about my next career move, this is what I believe is the next good move for both me and the business…’ and you won’t believe what my VP said! He said ‘What took you so long?"'
She had been dreading initiating the conversation.
Her manager wondered why she wasn’t self-advocating, despite many openings, and ultimately decided that she has lost interest.
This is one of the lessons that ambitious women often have to learn:
What got you here, won’t get you there!
Our first few promotions tend be based on our technical abilities – the ability to produce a set of accounts, develop new business or deliver a successful marketing campaign, for example. This is often when we get the tap on the shoulder.
However, after a certain point (usually manager level upwards) our ‘technical’ ability is taken for granted. We must still deliver a strong performance. But from here on, we are judged on a whole different set of criteria. And our ability and willingness to self-advocate is one of these factors.
Our capability to deliver on these other criteria is what determines our success.
Yet, all too often we wait for the tap on the shoulder. And when it doesn’t come, we wonder why. It’s easy to let the self-limiting beliefs take hold. Or perhaps we begin to resent colleagues who are progressing.
So, when you are considering your next career move, take some time to reflect on how you will self-advocate, in addition to working with sponsors.
Don’t wait for the tap on the shoulder that may never come.