Too often, leaders believe their role is to advocate for their best people and pull up those team members for opportunities for promotion and new assignments. While leaders certainly have a part to play in deciding who is most deserving of promotion, the best organizations look to the teams that support those team members for the signs that they are ready.
When team members are truly set for the next challenge, role, and promotion, those around them, especially those below them, push them up. The best leaders always know who is ready for promotion or coveted assignments by what those below have to say about the matter.
Indulge this allegory if you would. Think of yourself in a small rowboat on a big lake. Your peers are helping you navigate the choppy lake waters. Around the boat are the leadership team’s direct reports, working hard and staying afloat, ready to do their part to keep the rowboat cruising along. Below those you see, under the water, are the many team members who support the larger effort. They make everything about the rowboat possible.
As you look across the water, you see so many talented people rowing along who deserve to be inside the boat. Some are hugely commercial. Others are fierce culture carriers. Some are deserving because they develop skills in others, while still others deserve to be in the boat because they serve our clients best. So many deserving souls. We would bring them all on board, but for the fact, we would capsize. So, how do we decide who to promote, who to haul into the boat to share our hard-earned status?
We promote those people whose teams and support groups below them feel so strongly about their qualities that they push them up and out of the water. It doesn’t take much effort to carry people into the boat who are already boat-high because their teams think so highly of them. That’s how the best leaders make promotion decisions, and organizations with this philosophy become rich in sound leadership as a result.
By the way, who is pushing you up and out of the water?