So we’ve spent the last few days reflecting on how the great CEOs make talent management a priority and how they and their staffs cultivate a continuous awareness of high-potential team members in the organization.
I shared with you my experience as an executive leadership trainer learning that the vast majority of executives turned out to be extraverts, and set out on a quest to show my fellow introverts that it is still possible to become a highly successful executive…as long as you follow a few important steps!
So, on Tuesday we delved into Step One – the importance for you as an individual leader to be visible in the organization – how you need to get on the “radar screen” of senior executives and the C-Suite whenever possible – in order to be more successful at getting promoted. We followed this yesterday with Step Two - how in addition to making yourself visible in the organization you must work extra hard as an introvert to ensure that your ideas are visible as well.
Which brings us to today’s third and final step…
THE FINAL (and most important!) STEP: ASK FOR THE JOB YOU WANT
This was by far, for me, the most important factor in being promoted 8 times in 12 years – I told management (in a very respectful and professional way) what I wanted to do next and asked for their help in enabling me to get there.
They were always more than willing to help me. Why? I was fortunate to work in an organization that understood the importance of having employees in roles that they were passionate about – with, of course, the underlying assumption that you have the skills and experiences necessary to do the job well. I hope that is the case for you – either as the CEO creating that type of environment or as the leader looking to advance in your organization.
Now, why might this be more difficult for us introverts? As Wikipedia reminds us, “Briggs and Myers recognized that each of the cognitive functions can operate in the external world of behavior, action, people, and things (extraverted attitude) or the internal world of ideas and reflection (introverted attitude).” Simply put, I think sometimes introverts need to be more conscious about acting (which includes actively asking) than our extraverted colleagues.
How to Go About Asking for the Role You Want:
In other words, if you know exactly what you want – either a specific role or a type of role – make a plan regarding who should know about this desire, who might be able to help you, and who might have some great advice for you in regard to that role.
Remember those one-on-one coffee meetings we discussed in Step One as a way to gain visibility to upper management? Those are a great opportunity to talk about where you want to go next in the organization and ask for advice on how to get there.
I did this myself as a relatively new employee when I had coffee one day with the VP of Marketing for what was Baxter’s largest business. I had joined Baxter in the finance organization (surprised?) and quickly realized it was not where my strengths would be best utilized. I told him I wanted to move into a marketing role in his business and asked for his advice in getting there.
Not only did he give me very specific advice, he ended up writing me a recommendation to Kellogg for my MBA (he felt I either needed an MBA or needed to be working towards one) and when a position opened up a year later, reporting to him, I got the job.
Another Way: Not so Methodically
You don’t need to know exactly what you want before you express a desire for a role with increased responsibility. If you are ready for more responsibility – whether it be financial (managing a larger business), strategic (a strategically important business with unique challenges), relational (managing partnerships or key client bases), or whatever – I strongly encourage introverts to let executives know this and to let them know why you’re passionate about it.
Don’t wait for positions to open up – plant seeds in executives’ minds well before they do. Let’s be honest. For the majority of C-Level and upper level leadership roles before a position is posted the higher level executives already have a pretty good idea in their mind of who the candidates are for the role – and in some cases they may already have a strong preference of who they want in that role. Now, in most companies there may be a required “posting” process, and in some cases a decision will be made to go outside the organization and use a recruiter. But, on the whole, the more aware executives are of your interest in a particular area and how you’d be a great fit, the more likely you’ll be “top of mind” when an opportunity arises.
So, my fellow introverts, let’s make sure that if we want a role in the C-Suite that we are not letting our introversion get in the way! I encourage you to…
- Make yourself visible in the organization
- Make your ideas visible in the organization
- Ask for the promotion and roles that you want
Are you an introvert who feels that your introversion has gotten in the way of you being promoted? Do you tend to see extraverts in executive roles? I would be honored if you would share your insights in the comments…
UPDATE: My new eBook, “The Introvert’s Guide to Success in Business and Leadership” is NOW AVAILABLE! You may Download it at www.TheIntrovertsGuide.net for only $7.99 or BUY IT at Amazon for Kindle!
This 60+ page eBook is for introverts who want to use their introversion to their advantage in business and leadership, and for extroverts who lead introverts and wish to be more effective leaders.
This series was initially inspired by my friend Mack Collier’s “The Introvert’s Guide to Speaking” post, which in turn inspired my post titled, “You’re Just Not That Into Me: The Introvert’s Guide to Attending a Conference.”
Photo is “juliusturm – last steps to the light ” by extranoise