Brokerage Ops the November 2015 issue

Become the Next Obvious Choice

Play the part to get the part.
By Kevin Waldinger Posted on October 30, 2015

You need to position yourself so your strengths become apparent to the right people and you are appointed to roles that best fit your skills and personality. Too many times the best talent is overlooked or pushed forward into positions that are not suited for them, which means an opportunity missed—or worse, out and out failure.

Very high-level performers often seem to be perceived as being successful no matter what their role. But too often people accustomed to performing well in one job fall short in the next. A classic example is promoting high-level sales people into management roles. According to the logic, if they were so great at sales, they must be great management material. Too many in this industry know that approach doesn’t always work out so well.

On the flip side, qualified people are often overlooked for the next role, even when they might be a perfect fit. The key for millennials is to position yourself as the next obvious choice for the higher-level position. How do you do that?

The key for millennials is to position yourself as the next obvious choice for the higher-level position. How do you do that?

First, ask yourself if you are a good fit for the next promotion. The last thing you want is to be set up for failure, especially when you are used to sitting at the top of the food chain in your current position. When this happens (as it does too often), a really good person ends up leaving the company for a competitor. A perfectly good fit at one level—maybe even a great one—is turned into a bad one, and the company loses a great employee.

So how do you position yourself to take on the next higher-level position if you believe you are the right fit and you think the higher-ups should know it?

  •  Play the part to get the part. You need to act and be perceived as the right person while also doing your current job well. You want to be seen as already fit for the higher position—someone who has good ideas and suggestions and is currently bringing more to the table for that job function. Let the boss know you want to take on more responsibility and do some of the duties of the next level’s position while maintaining your current one. It likely will take more work and more hours, but if you want it bad enough, you will do what’s needed. It takes a while to demonstrate you are qualified and have the skills for your target position. Be patient. Success doesn’t happen overnight.
  •  The balance is tricky. If you devote too much of your time to trying to impress higher-ups or acting in the next role and helping with management duties, you might lose focus on your current job and see a decline in your performance. Of course, this would have the opposite effect of what you are trying to accomplish. Finding and maintaining balance in this hybrid role is difficult and not achievable for everyone. It takes planning and preparation, along with skills.
  • Share your success. Show bosses that you have a good system that is duplicable and can be used to train or coach other potential leaders. Remember that your firm is looking for longevity and wants sustainable results. When successful people operate in a way in which only they can be successful, they make it difficult for their firms to put them in a management position where they train and coach others.

Your firm wants to promote the best talent for the right jobs. If you are that person, step out of your boundaries and take on some higher-level duties. Demonstrate your capabilities. But never let your current job suffer.

It’s not just your capabilities that make you a good leader. Your personality must also fit the leadership team. So be a team player as well as a smart individual performer and you might just be the next obvious choice.

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