It's natural to want to advance your career and get to the next level of leadership. So what do you do when they hire a new person to take over a position you felt you deserved? Before you pack your bags and head out to look for a new job, consider some of the possible reasons you didn't get that promotion.
Each of us exhibit behaviors that send messages about our readiness to take on the responsibility of leading others. Many of these behaviors are so ingrained that we aren't even aware of how they impact others. It's the little things we do that often have the biggest impact on how others perceive us. If you feel like your career is going nowhere, it may be time to become aware of your own career limiting behaviors by considering the following:
Pay Attention To Your Assumptions
Making assumptions about what others need from us can result in costly errors and gross inefficiencies in the use of time. Watch for a tendancy to charge ahead on projects or tasks without checking assumptions. Finding out that the work you just spent 3 days completing wasn't what your boss was looking for can be discouraging for both parties. When assigned a project or task, ensure you ask questions to clarify the purpose, approach and requirements of the task before you get started. Using models or templates can speed up the process and ensure you make efficient use of your time and meet the established deadlines.
As well, some people automatically assume that others want more information than they actually want or need. Consistently providing too much information is an inefficient use of everyone's time. Others are more likely to "tune out" when you assume they want all the details. Instead, make your point and then ask if they would like more information about how you arrived at your conclusion.
Listen Twice as Much as You Speak
It can be extremely frustrating when others interrupt what you're saying to make their point. Be aware of your own tendancy to interrupt by keeping track of the number of times you cut other people off without waiting for them to finish their thought. Focusing your attention on what others are saying, rather than your response will likely reduce the number of times you jump into the conversation in the middle of someone else's sentence. Make a point of confirming and clarifying the message you heard before you add your own thoughts.
Use Clear & Concise Language
As you move up the ladder, clear and concise language matters increasingly. One of the best ways to identify your own language patterns is to record yourself speaking. Notice repeated use of fillers (um, so, right) which can detract from the intended message.
Often we think we are speaking in complete thoughts yet, because our brain works so much faster than we can speak, what we actually communicate to others comes across as disjointed and fragmented. Take a moment of two to jot down your key point and then deliver it using a full and complete sentence. Two or three supportive statements should be all it takes to get your point across.
Be Aware of Your Body Language
We respond to thousands on nonverbal cues and behaviors including postures, facial expression, eye gaze, gestures, and tone of voice every day. These details reveal who we are and impact how others relate to us. Excessive use of your hands while talking, for example, can detract others from receiving your key message. (I once worked with a women who flapped her arms and hands around so much when she was talking that I was more concerned about what she was going to knock over than what she was saying!) Equally important, is your facial expression. Slight changes in your brow, how you hold your mouth and where you look are quickly interpreted by others as indicators of your interest level, your judgment and your understanding of their message.
Ask for Feedback
Many people are uncomfortable giving honest feedback on career limiting behaviors. Encourage honesty by letting the other person know what you are looking for and why the feedback is important to you. Give them time to consider the one or two most important things you can do to improve your opportunities for promotion. Using a positive frame may motivate others to be more honest and makes the feedback easier to receive. For example, rather than commenting on the fact that you talk too much, they may note that improving your ability to listen more carefully to others will improve your ability to communicate more effectively. Provide options for them to deliver the feedback in writing or verbally depending on their comfort level.
Take charge of your leadership development by committing to developing greater awareness of your career limiting behaviors. Choose 1 or 2 of the strategies above to focus on over the course of the next 2 weeks. Notice how the changes you make, impact your relationships at work.
About Gail Daniels
Gail is accomplished at supporting organizations by providing the right set of planning tools and best practice processes to develop, map, document and follow through to execution of the Strategic Direction, Priorities and Actions. She is passionate about supporting and developing leaders to confidently lead people to inspired performance and results. Gail holds a MA Counselling Psychology and a Graduate Certificate in Executive Coaching from Royal Roads University. Gail is an avid learner who actively explores the relevance of neuroscience and emotional intelligence in leadership.