Emotional Intelligence, Leadership

Promotion: Who, When and Why

Traditionally, the who, when and why for promoting someone were fairly straight-forward. For whom to promote, the decision was usually based on a combination of functional competence in the potential candidate’s current and previous positions, the required entry level qualification for the position in question, relevant experience and longevity with their current employer. Regarding when, well that also was simple enough – when a position became available, usually through retirement or resignation of the previous incumbent (unless it had been decided to fill the position with an outsider). As for the why, again that was also fairly straight-forward. Because the position was needed to maintain the status quo and the organization could afford to fill it. In some rare cases, it was because the organization was planning to develop a new product or service and needed to create new positions.

However, in these days of intense market competition, accelerated change and relatively low unemployment those criteria are no longer sufficient. Capable, qualified and valued staff are not prepared to wait – if not promoted they will probably take their expertise elsewhere.

The Who – The Qualities Needed in Today’s Business World                                        
Because most promotions (except perhaps for some highly specialised positions) require the ability to manage others, the primary skill needed by leaders today is emotional intelligence. While EQ has always been an important leadership capacity it is especially so in our contemporary, challenging and changing economic context. A person with strong emotional Intelligence has been described as someone having a high degree of self-awareness, self- management, social awareness and relationship management. (for further information on EQ please check out two of our previous posts on Emotional Intelligence:  http://bit.ly/3A7y9G7 or http://bit.ly/3A9sNu4 )

In addition to being emotionally intelligent, effective leaders are people who are:

  • Highly trustworthy – they have integrity, no hidden agendas, they ‘walk their talk’, are reliable, and you know where you stand with them.
  • Compassionate – they show care and concern for others especially those in their teams.
  • Positive – they bring a hopeful orientation to their roles and relationships.
  • Initiators – they have a record of taking measured risks within authorised boundaries.
  • Teachable – they have shown they are willing to learn.

When to Promote 
Naturally, the answer is when a position is available and a suitable candidate is ready. However, organizations today also need to be proactive and prepared to cultivate and promote quality employees otherwise the risk of losing them is too high. This raises the critical importance of establishing a leadership pipeline system. With a leadership pipeline in place staff get to see that the business values its employees and promotional opportunities are available. Regular mentoring and coaching of staff (ideally weekly, but at least monthly) enable managers to know their people and their potential and thereby encourage the development of their employees.

Why Promote  
Again the answer is obvious. Quality staff are an organization’s best assets – and that should not just be lip service! Promoting employees in line with their interests and passions to their respective levels of competence (not incompetence, à la the Peter Principle) ensures firms have a steady inflow of new managers who personally are committed to and model the cultural values of the organization. In turn there’s a high probability they will ensure the continuing promotion of quality staff into the future thereby strengthening the business’ competitive edge.

Graham Beattie

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