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A Shift in Your Leadership Mindset Is Critical for Promotion
How leaders think of themselves and what role they play in an organization shapes much of their everyday leadership.
This so-called leadership mindset also dictates how they show up and represent themselves to those above. As the best leaders become more seasoned and experienced, they make a critical shift in who they believe they speak for in the organization.
When leaders first supervise others and lead a team of talented contributors, their identity is connected directly with the team. Throughout the organization, they advocate for their team members, compete for resources, and attempt to influence issues to the benefit of the team. We might call this representative leadership for the obvious reason that the leader acts for those they lead. This mindset infiltrates just about everything they do and see.
With every promotion and successive role, the expectation from those above is for the leader to become a bit more institutional in their views. In other words, rather than exclusively representing the team, they are expected to also think about the larger enterprise and what is in the best interest of the institution.
Others know they have made this shift in mindset when they begin to focus on the issues and problems their leader is focused on. They soon begin asking similar questions and making like-minded arguments in parallel with their leader. As the larger enterprise takes up more of the mind space, they now speak for the team and the institution.
Leaders who are overlooked for promotion have often failed to make this shift.
Every leader above them asks the same question: If we promote you to the next role, will you evolve your thinking to include the larger issues important to the overall organization or will you stay focused only on your direct reports? Of course, senior leaders have more confidence in the future when the newly promoted leader has their eyes focused upward on the bigger issues and not simply down toward the team they lead.
When seeking promotion or the next role, leaders are often given the advice to “act as if you already are in the seat.” This is exactly the point. How a leader “acts the next role” is by becoming more expansive in what matters.
When they also get involved with enterprise issues and take a strong interest in the metrics and data that capture the health of the enterprise, they live the next role before they are asked to play it.
Over time, leaders who stay trapped exclusively in a representative mindset don’t serve the larger organization as well as they should. This prevents them from adding the value they are capable of and often negates their ability to be promoted.