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Promotable Behaviors

by Jeff Gau on February 24, 2011

What does it take to get promoted? It’s a question that’s often on the minds of employees as they are working to develop their careers. From a leadership perspective, it’s important to recognize the goals of an individual in order to effectively coach them on career progression.

Paul Ebnet, president of Louis Industries and former president of Stearns Inc., recently put it into perspective for me when he shared what he calls “promotable behaviors” with an Executive Group consisting of myself and 14 other business leaders. I loved Paul’s term the moment I heard it and felt the content provides clear guidelines on the characteristics it takes to earn a promotion and be an effective leader.  

Like most good advice, this not something new. However, it’s a reminder of what behaviors will help get you promoted or take you out of the game. Here are some of Paul’s “promotable behaviors” that I think are essential in leadership:

1.  Tell the truth.
It’s easier and you don’t have to remember what you said.

2.  Do what you say you will do.
This is a form of telling the truth and is about execution, as I shared in the last blog. Be careful what you commit to, but when you do commit, make sure you follow through.

3.  Adopt a service mentality.
Prompt follow-up with your internal and external customers goes a long way in building relationships. Being respectful of other people’s time is another attribute of service leadership.

4.  Deflect praise to others and accept criticism willingly.
Paul calls this a spear-catcher – someone who takes the blame when something fails and redirects the credit to someone else. Often times, successes are achieved collaboratively and you’re always better off passing on the praise. This is good advice professionally and personally.

5.  Show interest in other people’s responsibilities.
You can’t work in silos and be successful. I’ve observed this in our own organization. Leaders that emerge have a better understanding of the “big picture” than their peers.  From sales and service to operations and finance, it’s important to gain a broad understanding of the business beyond your own responsibilities. This helps you earn the respect of others and develops your credibility.

6.  Be an enthusiastic proponent of your company.
If you enjoy what you do and where you work, being a cheerleader – or at least respectful ambassador – should come easy. For example, Marco employees enjoy wearing our company logo gear. The fact that they purchase everything from Marco shirts to jackets with their own money validates their pride in our company.  This is some of the best PR a company can have.

7.  Talk less. Listen more.
Need I say more? It’s best to never fall in love with your own voice.

8.  Address conflict.
As I blogged before, effective conflict resolution is a key attribute of good leadership. Resolving “issues” before they have time to fester is critical. If you’re frustrated with someone about their behavior, talk to them or someone who can do something about it. Otherwise, it’s just “bitching.”

9.  Be a good business person.
Treat expenses, profitability, and inventory as if you were spending your own money. At Marco, this mindset comes much easier because the company is employee owned. Avoid the trap of OPM (other people’s money).

10.  Stay current. Learn. Network.
Consider this an investment in your career and an “insurance policy.”  Stephen Covey, author of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, calls this “keeping your saw sharp.”

I felt the concept of “promotable behaviors” to be important enough that I asked Paul to present them to our leadership team so they can coach our employees on what it takes to rise to the top.

This reminds us to work as hard on ourselves as we do on our jobs to be better prepared for career promotion.  

Topics: Promotion

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