Aspiring for a promotion in difficult times? Here’s how (Book Review)

A promotion at work has always been a hard grand even at the best of times. It could be even tougher in the “new normal” world that is emerging as a consequence of the coronavirus pandemic.

However despair not, as Executive and Leadership Coach Manbir Kaur guides you up the corporate ladder, even as she points out no single magic skill or strength that can take you to leadership positions but provides you 10 mantras that can help you on your way.

“The pandemic is changing the way the business happens, impacting all of us. We will see a lot of reorganizations and regrouping as businesses orient themselves for success. More leaders are required to lead these new initiatives and that brings in some opportunities for growth,” Manbir Kaur told IANS as her new book, “Get Your Next Promotion” (SAGE) hits the stands.

“And as we come out of pandemic and businesses start to grow back, many new opportunities will come, but only those who are ready for grabbing these opportunities stand to gain. As we persevere through these challenging times, we need to make every effort to prepare for a better tomorrow.

“Some sectors have started seeing growth already for example, Telecom, IT, Software. The leaders in challenged sectors have come up with some promising alternatives; for example the event management companies are orienting themselves for large virtual events. In short even challenge like a pandemic will lead to opportunities for people who are ready,” the author added.

What then are the 10 mantras? They are in no specific order but some obviously are more fundamental than the others.

* Setting up the right goals. At every stage in your career, you make many decisions. Many times, you take decisions as they come and do not consider the long-term implications of individual decisions. Some decisions take you towards the plateau which will limit the scope of your growth.

* Horizontal growth versus vertical growth. Growth is almost always assumed to be vertical, and comes with a bigger title, larger and diverse teams and of course more benefits. But how do you become ready for roles that require diverse experience?

* Relationships. It surprises people when they learn that the quality of their work alone cannot guarantee their growth. Apart from your manager, you must have other sponsors willing to support you. Leaders must take personality differences in their stride and be able to forge common goals that bring people together.

* The importance of right conversations. It is some key people who take decisions with regard to your next role. But how well do they know you? Do they trust you? They may know you through your work, but that just proves the subject matter expertise, which is just one part of the trust element. You also need to establish your character, especially your intent, which is done through the conversations that you have with these stakeholders.

* Visibility and personal branding are very important to your growth. You may have great qualities and capabilities, but if the right stakeholders are unaware of you and your work, you may be at a disadvantage. What happens when work never gets attributed to you?

* The world is not static, in fact it is VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous). What you knew yesterday cannot keep you ahead tomorrow. The importance of continuous learning cannot be ignored, and when you ignore learning in the name of being too busy, you suffer in your own career.

* A well-rounded individual is always preferred for top roles. Creating an impact beyond your boundaries may be a way to showcase your leadership capabilities beyond your current role. Such opportunities also help you to connect with the leadership teams beyond your own vertical and provide you with many chances to have great conversations.

* You must be able to articulate what you need at the right forum, at the right time and in the right way. You may deserve it but if you do not ask for it, the decision-makers may wonder if you really want it. They may give the position away to someone who values that role more.

* Diversity is a new way of life at work. Leaders must have the ability to leverage the diversity to the benefit of the organization. If you are not conscious of the value that diversity can add, you might create hurdles for your own growth.

* Emotional intelligence (EI) helps the leader to connect with others at human level. It fosters empathy and understanding and helps a leader to forge strong bonds. It is one of the key strengths of a leader.

The book is not all about theory. It also presents a case study of an individual who has been able to make great strides in his career starting from Indian Army to the global tech world as well as tech start-up world.

For this individual, named Kulmeet, the key lies in people and relationships.

“When you look at any facet of your daily life, whether it is customers, quarterly numbers, million dollars deals, or your teams, it is all about people. If you can get the people equation right, then everything else falls into place,” Kulmeet says.

Within this, there and three sub-elements: Transparency and genuineness, a passion for life and “doing” for others and for the greater good.

What are the mistakes that one may make in the People Equation?

One of the learnings he has had from a very early age, Kulmeet says, is that you cannot have an agenda. When you are sitting and talking with someone, you need to be very conscious and cautious that you are not in there just for your selfish interest. If you try to build relationships with an agenda, it will always show up. You can only make a lasting relationship if you are genuinely interested in the people you meet and not just in the transaction you want to conduct with them.

So, there you have it. “We all have been part of good and not-so-good relationships, conflict situations, misunderstandings and so on. We have suffered the consequences of conflicts resulting from poor relationships and mistrust,” Manbir Kaur writes.

Do you have it in you to grab the bull by the horns and move ahead?

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