From the time I started working at 18 years old in a restaurant, I was constantly looking at how I could move up; my first promotion was to assistant manager. Sure it was for more money, but deeper and more importantly, it was for more challenges, more responsibilities, being able to be more creative. It was a bit later in my career that I realized it was also about making a bigger difference. I remember getting only 25 cents more an hour for that assistant manager position, but the work I was doing was much more engaging to me.
Many people are looking to move up, but they rarely question why.
Especially in a management position, before you can begin to discover what’s really holding you back, it might benefit you to dig into your why. When money is your first answer, dig a little deeper. Money is just symbolic. When it’s about ego and position, dig a little deeper and find out what that really means for you.
Our why is our intent.
It is the life force that moves us. It is what motivates us. It is where our energy comes from. When we are clear about our purpose, some of our roadblocks will simply disappear. But don’t think they all will - there will always be challenges. Real challenges we have to deal with.
To illustrate this I’ll share a story of a coaching client I’ll call “Jane” to protect this person’s privacy. Jane had been in mid-management for 12 years, her most recent position at a VP level for 3 years. She had 12 direct reports. Jane’s performance reviews were always good. She was looking to move into a C-suite position. It was her next career move. She was sure it was her boss who was holding her back, most likely threatened by her. Until she started to explore her why.
Jane initially just thought moving into the C-suite was the next obvious step in her career. With a little reflection, she discovered that she wanted to be recognized as accomplishing something great, and moving into a C-suite position was the perfect thing for her.
When she started to dig into that, she realized she wanted to get to a position where she could make a difference; make some real positive changes that would affect the lives of other people.
When we met 2 weeks later, Jane was much more clear on what was holding her back. It was her boss! But it was Jane that was making it about her boss. She was using him as an excuse to not step into the behaviors of a C-suite executive. (While Jane was ‘digging in deeper’ it also came out that she had some hidden fears that maybe she wasn’t C-suite material.)
Over the next couple of months, Jane reported back that her energy had completely shifted.
She was focused on making real positive changes and gaining allies to help. She noticed her stress level went down, her communication flowed more easily and she was actually enjoying work again. She still had some real challenges with her boss, but it was clear to her what issues were his and what she could do differently to interact more effectively. This took some real work, and it paid off 9 months later when she landed her C-suite position. Jane has made incredible contributions to the organization and to the lives of many.
As you begin to identify your upper management speed bumps, think of it as your journey. We can all attest that some of the best learning and development we’ve had was from mistakes and challenges we’ve had to overcome. Just learn to look at these challenges as critical learning and growth opportunities.
If you want more on this topic, register for our free webinar on The Secret to Moving Up In Management! Please take the anonymous poll and share what you think is holding you back from moving up in management. And stay tuned over the next few weeks. We’ll be sharing a lot more on this topic!