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Don’t wait to be promoted to get promoted July 6, 2007

Posted by Darth Sidious in Career Management.
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One of the reasons I pursued Anakin (aka Darth Vader) so aggressively is because he constantly demonstrated his potential – he knew he was and acted like a Master Jedi, even though he didn’t have the title (Jedi council not recognizing his talents was their loss and my gain btw).

For some reason, most people think promotion comes from hard work in their current capacity. Although that alone is possible to advance in your career, it won’t be enough to truly excel. Any advancement would be minimally incremental (same job, different title, with a little more pay).

If you dream of attaining TRUE success you have to truly BELIEVE that you already are capable of that capacity. You can’t wait to be told to function at this higher capacity as a result of a promotion – it’s the other way around, you get promoted into a position because you already are demonstrating that capacity.

Most people believe their next step is management; but no one will promote you into management if you relegate yourself to functioning as a pure individual contributor, just because you are an individual contributor. You’ll get promoted into management if you’re exhibiting management characteristics – think about it from their perspective.

E.g. why did I go after Anakin? He demonstrated the passion and technical skills I was looking for – which made him a natural candidate for my apprentice. Similarly in your position, if you’re constantly stepping up to the plate and operating above and beyond the call of duty, exceeding the boundaries of your defined responsibilities, you’ll really standout with executive management as a perfect candidate to take over the team because you ALREADY ARE acting as the manager.

Of course there are limitations; without the official title you won’t have the authority to just start doing things that you’re not responsible for – but there is no shortage of opportunities to step up to the plate and take leadership. Maybe not for people, but for a project, or a problem. Your management is dying to have people who’ll just take ownership of things and run with it – and not have to keep delegating.

The common lemming would wait to be told to take charge of a project, or fix a problem. However someone worthy of promotion doesn’t wait; they do without having to be asked to do it. A Sr Programmer architects solutions even though they’re not an architect, paving the way to an easy promotion to architect.
 
What is your team missing? What do your customers suffer from? What are the current risks to the business? Where can things be improved? Almost everyone has opinions on this, and there’s no shortage of people who are willing to point these issues out. However, only few are willing to not only identify the issues, but come up with a plan to solve them, and offer to lead it.

That is the true path to promotion. Act right now in the position you want to be. If you don’t have all the skills yet, start practicing and learning them. Step up to the plate, and execute beyond the boundaries that your current job title defines you as.

Darth Sidious

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