Certified Executive Coach Stacy Mayer explains how to plan and accelerate your journey to senior leadership.
Stacy Mayer of Stacy Mayer Consulting
Website: Stacy Mayer Consulting
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Do you want to be promoted to a leadership role in your organization? How actively are you advocating for that promotion, or are you just waiting for it to happen? The time to start planning and step up is now.
Stacy Mayer is on a mission to get 1000 talented managers promoted into leadership positions each year worldwide. Her clients include some of the world’s largest and most prestigious technology companies – and the amazing humans who work for them – as well as professional associations.
As a certified executive coach, Stacy takes an integrative approach that combines evidence-based leadership frameworks, confidence-building tools, emotional intelligence, and positive psychology to empower leaders to step into their higher leadership potential so they can go from under-appreciated, under-recognized, and underpaid to respected, rising stars. Her podcast “Maximize Your Career with Stacy Mayer” provides insightful, proven communication strategies for corporate managers. It’s the “how-to” for repositioning and building confidence in real-time problem-solving abilities so that leaders can advance their careers while being true to themselves.
Stacy talks about her journey as a performer and how it became her passion to change how the boardroom looks. Listen in to learn the communication strategies you can use so that your organisation knows you’re ready for promotion. You’ll also learn why your current organisation is your perfect training ground even if you feel you don’t fit with the culture.
What you’ll learn in this episode
- [1:24] Stacy shares her dream of changing how the boardroom looks by including greater diversity.
- [2:39] She explains what led her to start arming people with communications skills to help them level up their careers.
- [5:30] How to develop improvisation skills and why you’ll benefit from them.
- [9:38] Why you should always be thinking about what’s next in your job.
- [12:44] The importance of defining your goals and working out the steps required to meet them whilst maintaining the long-term vision.
- [18:55] Why when updating your boss you should talk about the “why” and not just the “what”.
- [23:09] Understanding what you need for your next promotion to work for you.
- [26:39] How to be a better communicator and the strategies to employ as you advocate your promotion.
- [33:49] How to build a relationship with your boss and not go over their head when talking about promotion.
- [37:08] Tips on how to start your journey to getting promoted.
- [39:11] Why your current organization is the best training ground for your career even if you might not see yourself staying there long-term.
- [42:11] Stacy shares some of the resources that will help you advance your career.
Resources mentioned in this episode
Please note that some of these are affiliate links and we may get a small commission in the event that you make a purchase. This helps us to cover our expenses and is at no additional cost to you.
- Episode 42: Behaviour change, marketing, and going to the dogs! – with Natalie Weller-Cliff of Dogs Like Yours
- Quote: “Rather than being disheartened by the ambiguity, the uncertainty of life, what if we accepted it and relaxed into it? What if we said, “Yes, this is the way it is; this is what it means to be human,” and decided to sit down and enjoy the ride?”, Pema Chodron
- Stacy’s Promotion Roadmap
- Two exercises to help you find career happiness
To see the resources recommended by all our guests, visit the Resources page.
Episode 60: How to get promoted at work - with Stacy Mayer of Stacy Mayer Consulting
Jeremy Cline 0:00
Have you ever looked at your boss or maybe your boss's boss and thought, you know what, I could do that job. And it's not just that you think you could do that job, you want to do that job. Doing that job really interests you. How can you achieve promotion to put yourself in that position? That's what we talk about in this episode. I'm Jeremy Cline and this is Change Work Life.
Jeremy Cline 0:35
Hello, and welcome to the Change Work Life podcast, where we're all about beating the Sunday evening blues and enjoying Mondays again. Now, we've talked a lot on this podcast about changing careers and often changing into different fields entirely. But there will be cases where you're in the right career, but what you need is progression within that career, you need to get promoted. And that's what we're going to discuss today with Stacey Mayer, who is a certified executive coach, and who is on a mission to get 1000 talented managers promoted to leadership positions each year. Stacey is also the host of the Maximise Your Career podcast. Stacey, welcome to the show.
Stacey Mayer 1:10
Thank you. Thank you, Jeremy. It's great to be here.
Jeremy Cline 1:13
First of all, can tell us little bit more about what you do, what it means to be an executive coach and your mission to get 1000 talented managers promoted to leadership positions each year, which sounds like quite a lot!
Stacey Mayer 1:23
Yeah, exactly. That's my mission, I'm thinking it's gonna take me a few years to get there. But boy, when I do, this is going to make a big huge difference to the leadership table. So let me just paint this vision for you. We have a lot of corporate managers in the higher level executive positions that look exactly the same. And that isn't just because of unconscious bias, that is a real thing. And in the corporate workforce, we know about it, it's being talked about a lot right now. But some of it is also because the managers as they're growing in their careers, they don't have the skills necessary to actually get themselves into those positions of leadership. So by default, the people who have built relationships, "look like the other people in the room", are the ones who end up getting promoted. So when I say 1000 managers, I'm talking about 1000 managers of various different colours, ethnicities, genders, introverts, extroverts, all different types of people at the leadership table. This is my dream. This is a big dream, that we're actually changing the way that the boardroom looks in corporations.
Jeremy Cline 2:34
So how did you get into coaching? And specifically, how did you get into this type of coaching?
Stacey Mayer 2:39
Yeah, that's a great question. When I first started coaching, I worked for a women's leadership organisation. I'm out here in the US in California. And it's one of the biggest women's leadership organisations in the Bay Area in Silicon Valley. And we worked with these really incredibly talented women. And we taught them basically women's leadership skills. So executive presence, risk taking, speaking up, body language, political savvy, we taught them how to navigate the workplace. But I felt like something was still missing for them, because I noticed that while they were feeling better at work, they weren't actually getting promoted. So they weren't actually advancing their careers. And, and I go back from time to time, and I look at some of the women's LinkedIn profiles from many, many years ago, who I coached earlier on in my career, and they're still in the same position, technically. And there was something missing. And I started to look at there's that sweet spot when you're coaching and when you're developing your expertise, where you're like, what is the thing that I am really good at that nobody else seems to be, that nobody else seems to get. And that thing for me was communication. So I have been a performer on stage for 20 plus years. I started out in high school actually, and in particular, when I moved to Chicago to actually start my professional acting career, I went into improvisation. So I studied at Second City Improv Olympic. And I realised that those skills that you learn through improvisation actually teach you how to communicate to people. So I had this unique ability to tell a story. I had this unique ability to get other people to see me in a certain way. I had this unique ability to take risks, but not just take risks in what I was doing at work, but in how I was speaking up about what I was doing at work, which seems to be especially scary for minority leaders because they just want to be equal, so they're afraid to speak up. They just want to be seen in this way. And so that's actually where I've put all of my focus since I started my own coaching practice and kind of ventured out, is on how to give my clients these communication skills necessary to really make it to that next level of their career. And because I'm an improviser, we laugh a lot too.
Jeremy Cline 5:09
I want to ask about improvisation, because for one of my previous guests, Natalie Weller-Cliff back in Episode 42, mentioned how she'd taken some improvisation classes as well. Nothing to do with the sort of work that she did, but she found it really helpful. I mean, it is this kind of a useful thing that is generally beneficial for people to have a go at?
Stacey Mayer 5:31
It's funny, because you talked about at the beginning, when you introduced this podcast, you said that normally people are switching careers, right - that they're going into other fields. And what happens is that we can't see the way out. So what I would call that in improv speak is thinking outside of the box, right? We create in our lives, this tunnel vision of seeing the world in a very specific way. And when we can't find a way out, we go out, we leave, and we we start our own thing, or we switch jobs, or we're like, I can't make this work. One of the things with improvisation is that you don't have an out. I used to do a two person improv show. I did the show in New York City. So after Chicago, I moved to New York, started my own Theatre Company and for two years, I did a two person improv show with a different person on stage every single week, this was 100% by design. It got me out so far out of my head, it taught me how to stick with a theme and stay on stage and talk to a person. We were in front of an audience for 45 minutes. I couldn't escape, I had to make it work. And so I think that's sort of what comes to mind when it when I think about the overarching skill of improv is that it gives us that ability to take risks and to really just stick with one thing for long enough to actually see it come to fruition. Now, the second part of your question was, is this common? Is this a thing that people do? And I would say absolutely not. I think most people are quite terrified of taking improv classes. But as with anything, once we lean into that fear, it could actually be quite good for us. So I'm certainly all for it, recommending it to people, if they want to take improv.
Jeremy Cline 7:21
I'm gonna have to look more into it. I did a management training thing a while ago and one of the components of that was an improv session with a couple of actors. And so I got up on stage and did my thing. I've got to say it's one of the most terrifying things I've ever done.
Stacey Mayer 7:35
Yeah, totally. It's scary.
Jeremy Cline 7:37
Yeah. But it was good fun, and it definitely taught me a few things.
Stacey Mayer 7:40
So you've been at a company for 10 years and try walking in to your boss, let's not even say your boss, the person that you have a good relationship with, let's say your boss's boss, going up to the Senior Vice President and saying to them that you want a promotion and these are all the reasons why. That's pretty darn terrifying. And it is, it's scary. Everything that we're doing, all risks that we're taking. Like I said, I didn't even realise quite I knew how scary it was but I was in my 20s and 30s when I was doing it and looking back, I was like, Oh, this gave me the foundation to be able to do all that I'm able to do now and to quite frankly challenge my clients to do the same. And to actually give them and not just challenge them, you know, You should go speak up, because that was the missing piece when I was working in women's leadership, is we would say you should go speak up. But we wouldn't actually give them the skills to speak up. We wouldn't actually tell them how to negotiate on their own behalf, how to advocate for themselves.
Jeremy Cline 8:43
Nicely leads us into the topic that I really wanted to talk to you about, and that's the the subject of promotion and how someone achieves a promotion. So briefly setting the scene, we're talking here about someone who has identified that they are working in the right place and promotion is right for them. It's what they want to go for. So we're not going to discuss whether it's the right move for someone, that's something that I've covered previously, and will cover in future episodes as well. So we're talking to the person who is in a management position and wants to go for a more senior leadership role. I guess the first question I've got is, and I'm sure the answer to a lot of these questions are going to be "well it depends on the organisation", but maybe just some general principles. What sort of time frame should someone be thinking about planning a promotion? How far in advance should someone be thinking about being promoted to a senior position?
Stacey Mayer 9:38
Always. Literally, always. I'm telling you, this is a game changer. One of the biggest reasons that promotions fail, and the reason that people aren't able to get the recognition "that they deserve" is because they're thinking of it very short term. They have a performance review coming up. It's been put in their calendar and this is about three weeks out, and they're like, okay, I need to get all my eggs in a basket, I need to figure out how to negotiate my salary. I want to make sure I tell my boss this. And we're waiting until the last minute. The problem with that I mean, if it doesn't seem obvious, is that here, I'll just point out the problems. It's that number one, if you're putting way too much pressure on yourself, it is so much more difficult to negotiate from that place, to have to say every single thing that you've done well, all year long in one fell swoop. That is not good. We don't need that unnecessary pressure. Number two is that it generally fails. Your performance, your promotion criteria is already defined, right? So by the time that your boss has put in your calendar that your performance review is coming up, it's actually not on the table for negotiation, it's too late. So they've already decided going into it. So now you're basically at best negotiating your next promotion cycle, if you're having a conversation, and it's more about like, well, why didn't I receive exceptional performance status? And then the third piece is that when we do it all along, and we just start to make that our general practice that we're thinking about promotion, it allows us to actually build relationships in an organic and authentic way, which is generally why people hate going for, quote, unquote, a promotion is because it doesn't feel authentic and organic, it feels very forced. Well the only reason it feels forced is because you're leaving it all to the end. Hundred percent, you're always going for a promotion. If you want some proof on that, look at your C-suite executives. They are always thinking about their professional development. And it's a by-product of their actual role that they're in because there's nowhere else to go. So if they're not building relationships, if they don't know exactly what the next steps are in their career, they're at a CFO level, like I had a client who was the CFO, and he was always thinking about what is next, he had to always think about what's next. Because of his company, his role is way too volatile, that he'll be out of a job. And I think the reason that we get so fixated on not doing that is because we just don't have that risk, we don't feel like we're gonna lose our job. So we're like, get comfortable. But that doesn't mean that we can't be advocating for a promotion all year long, always.
Jeremy Cline 12:31
Is the extension of this that people really should be almost planning every step of their careers, they're not just planning the next step, but planning three steps ahead, five steps ahead, five years ahead, ten years ahead.
Stacey Mayer 12:44
Yeah. So I want you to think about that for a minute. So when we're talking about planning our career and our steps ahead, the number one thing - so if I have somebody ask me, What do I need to do to get a promotion? That's a pretty common question. Then I say, want a promotion. So the first place we're starting with when we start to take our professional development seriously, and think about our goals, both short term and long term is that we have goals, that we actually want something. And it's really phenomenal how few people think that way, right? Because we're so busy in our work, we're so busy with our families, we're so busy with just life in general, we don't think about what is next. And we think about what's next for our team, but we don't think about what's next in our career. The other piece of this when you talk about really long term and thinking about that 3, 5, 10 year plan, is it's actually easier to accept, to access the long term. So when you think about it, your listeners - Jeremy can do this as an exercise - think about where you want to be in 10 years, you can probably just be like, I don't know, I want to be a CFO. It's easy to throw that out there when it's long term, because you're thinking in more of a visionary way versus a goal. So what I mean by that is that a goal is something that we actually see the steps, we actually know that we can obtain it. So people tend to set very small goals for themselves, because they can see the way that they're going to get there. A vision is just like something we just throw on the wall. It could be a vision board, right? Just something that we literally just say, Well, I don't know, I think I can be CFO someday. So when we think really long term, it's easier to access. That's when we get into our possibility stage. And the only way that we're actually going to hit that is to stay in possibility. And what I recommend that people do is also bring some of that visionary into their current goals, right? So the actual short term goals, which will be one year out, is actually ask yourself, okay, if I could wave a magic wand and everything worked out perfectly at my next performance review meeting, not the one in three weeks, but a year from now, what would need to actually happen. So one thing could be title, right? It could be that I get a different title. That's one type of promotion. But there's all these other types of promotions, which is that I get more responsibility. I actually get called into these certain types of meetings, that I have one client who started working with me because she was being pushed to the last 10 minutes of every executive board meeting. She already had a seat at the table, but she felt like her agenda items didn't matter. She was pushed to the last 10 minutes every single time. So a promotion for her was to be able to speak up at the beginning of the meeting, to actually give her full time to speak. And so there's just so many different goals that we can have along the way that can still be in that visionary way.
Jeremy Cline 15:41
That's a really important point. Because I think that people naturally think of promotions as being title, and more money. And people don't necessarily think that an invitation to join a particular committee or an invitation to be part of a particular problem, people don't see that as being a promotion, because their title hasn't changed and they're still earning the same amount of money. But what you're saying if I've understood it, is that is effectively a type of promotion, because someone has recognised that this is something that you have demonstrated that you're capable of doing.
Stacey Mayer 16:14
And you'll feel it. What ends up happening for people, because they wait so long is that when they do get the title change, they're like, of course, I deserved that. And actually, in some ways, that's really good. We want to have that part, that title change to just happen super easily, where it's like, well, I've already been operating at a vice president level for so long. Of course, I'm just gonna get the title to go along with it. But tell my clients that I have a woman who I work with who's a vice president, and during the crisis, she did some really phenomenal things in sales and actually hit higher numbers in March and April than the company, the organisation, her team had seen in previous years.
Jeremy Cline 16:58
This is the covid crisis?
Stacey Mayer 17:00
Yes. Thank you for saying that. Thank you. Yeah, totally. Yeah, I forget that when someone listens to this episode in the future, it's like what, which crisis?! So it's March 2020, and she very easily could have just crawled under her desk, because she works in sales and she also works for higher education. So all the universities were shut down, international travel was shut down, and she's the sales rep, sales VP. Instead, that's not what she did. And she actually, because she was already thinking in this visionary way, she anticipated the challenges back in February. And she actually set up a new plan for her team to attack this challenge differently. So she stayed in that visionary status, both for her career, but really for her team. So when we start thinking about this for our career, it has this beautiful by-product where we actually become better leaders for our team as well. And so her promotion at that time was actually her COO started recognising her accomplishments and bringing her to the leadership team meetings to talk about how she was doing it. Because no other sales teams in the organisation were doing it. Oh, my gosh, that was a promotion. She called me she's shaking. She's like, I can't believe this happened. And I started laughing. And I was like, I can! I can believe this happened. You set this up. It's amazing. And it feels so much more rewarding at times, of course, that the money is great, the title is great. But when your work actually matters, when you see it making a difference at your organisation, that is the ultimate promotion.
Stacey Mayer 17:09
So is the way to achieve promotion, just to sort of work hard or work harder, and to show that you're working. So you know, people recognise that you are working hard or working harder be in terms of you know, the number of sales you're doing, or the number of hours you're billing, or all that sort of thing.
Stacey Mayer 18:56
Yeah, I would actually say that's the way not to get a promotion. So Jeremy, hear me out. We need to be good at our job. And so I assume that you're great at your job, especially if you're at a director level or at a vice president level, somebody has recognised you throughout the years, because you're good at what you do. You work hard, you show up. And most of the clients that I work with, that part comes easy to them, right? They have no trouble hitting their targets. What they have trouble doing is speaking about what they're doing from a leadership perspective. So a lot of them will keep their head down. They're not actually focused on their professional development. They're thinking that their hard work will pay off at performance review time, my hard work speaks for itself, and then they won't tell anybody about what they're doing. And so I will coach them and we'll say, Okay, when you had a conversation with your boss this week, what did you guys talk about? And they'll say, Well, my boss only wants to hear about the updates. And first of all, I'll say that not actually true. And I can prove that. But the first thing is they'll say my boss only wants to hear about the update, I have a client that will do that, you know, pretty much all my clients at first. And they'll say, 'This is what I'm working on, this is what I hit'. 'Okay, great'. And they'll have a little bit of conversation about some of the stuff that they're working on, and then they'll go back to their desk. But what they're not talking about is why they're working on the certain thing. They won't talk about how it ties into the bigger vision for the organisation. So a senior executive leader, somebody who is at a vice president, Senior Vice President, or a C-suite level, has to think in that way, they have to speak in that way. And so the risk that we're running by always having these tactical check-ins and only speaking about the literal work that we're doing, and not tying it into the vision is that they don't actually see us as an executive, they don't see us that way. They see us as an individual contributor, because that type of behaviour is much more closely aligned with what got you here, it's not actually what's gonna get you to that next level of leadership. And so we have to teach other people how to see us. So when I said earlier that they think that this is the only thing that their boss once from them, they think that their boss is too busy to have anything else. But they've never asked to have a more strategic conversation with their boss, what they're trying to do is tie in their strategy, their why, their vision into this 15 minute tactical conversation that they've normally had with their boss. But what you have to do is you have to step outside of it and you have to actually schedule a second conversation with your boss where you're like, I just want to talk about vision, I just want to talk about the overall strategy, I'm going to talk about where we're headed, you have to give your boss the heads up, that's what you want to talk about. And believe me, once you do that, your boss will just open up, and people are just shocked. They're like, Oh, my gosh, my boss was so excited to see me finally talk about this. And it's like they're waiting for it, they're waiting for you to step up. They're waiting for you to take a chance and to actually have those higher conversations because your boss needs you to do that. The other thing I'll just add, before I finish off this question is look at your team, look at your team and those people who really step up and surprise you and push you to have more than a tactical conversation. It feels good as a boss to actually have someone step up in that way. So that's the big challenge is to actually not have your hard work speak for itself, but to actually speak yourself for yourself.
Jeremy Cline 22:41
I think that your answer just now has covered to an extent my next question, but how do you work out what it is that your organisation is looking for, in terms of promoting someone? So I'm starting this question from an assumption that an organisation will have a certain checklist of things that they look for in an individual before promoting that person? So how do you know, how do you find out what is on that checklist?
Stacey Mayer 23:11
This is definitely where a coach comes in. Because it's always what is not said, that is actually going to get you the promotion. It's a little bit of both. It's what's said and not said. So first of all, I'll just offer that many of us make assumptions of something that we do not adequately understand. We'll hear from our boss, our boss will say that promotions happen at promotion time, right, once per year. You'll hear this from your boss, they'll say we have too many directors right now. That's a great excuse. We have we you'll see it right. Once you get closer to the C suite, you'll see Well, there's only one SVP role and my boss holds that title. You'll see things like that, and you'll think, well, there's no way for me to actually get promoted into there, because that's the way it works here. So first of all, don't assume anything. Don't assume that that is the only way to find your way up through, navigate the chains of command. So the first thing is get the facts. And the way that you're going to do that is you're actually going to ask your boss very directly how she got promoted. You're going to say, Okay, well how did it work for you? What was your story? And now let's go out and try that with three or four other people at the organisation. Not only are you going to find out how promotions actually happen at the organisation, you're also going to build relationships with these people. And one of the ways that all promotions happen regardless of the organisation that you work for, we see that happen with people that we don't like will say, Oh, they just got promoted because of who they know. Well, great. Make that work for you, okay, because you can know the right people as well. So get the facts, actually understand what it takes to get promoted at your organisation. And then if you have an outside perspective, like a coach, that's where it comes in to say, Okay, what questions are you not asking? And what more information do you need about what is possible? So for instance, actually asking your boss, what would it take for them to sponsor you for an executive role? Actually just flat out asking that question. And then when they say, Oh, well, you're going to need to speak up more in meetings, then you're like, Okay, so what does that look like? What does speaking up more in meetings look like? So now we're dissecting this surface level answer and making it actually work for us. And then what we're going to do is we're going to have regular conversations with our boss after that, to make sure that we're headed in the right direction. And I do this very stealthily, it is not a matter of going back into our boss's office and saying, Hey, so did you see me? I spoke up, was that good? You know, I was speaking up, I was speaking up, can I get a promotion now? No, we don't do it that way. I have some back hand ways that I can go about it. This is where the communication techniques really come into play. But it can be super organic, very, very authentic, and really, really a fun process to really understand your own growth and what it's going to take to actually make it to that next level.
Jeremy Cline 26:17
I think just to pick up on what you were saying there, the dividing line between being pushy and assertive, and being a nuisance, how do you tread that dividing line? And I guess I'm partly going to speak from a UK perspective, where maybe a lot of us aren't quite so used to being very sort of pushy and direct and that sort of thing.
Stacey Mayer 26:40
Yeah. Well, it's funny, because I'd be curious. It kind of sounds like you said pushy, and a nuisance and assertive. But I think you said, it was funny, but they're all basically annoying, right? We don't want to be any of those things! And I don't think we should be. And so here is here is what we've we have seen in the corporate world, is we have seen a very particular type of person who is pushy, assertive, and a little bit annoying get ahead. So not only do we not want to be that, we think naively, that's actually what it takes to get ahead. And so then, therefore, we just don't do anything, right. We're like, well, I don't want to be those things. So what do you do instead, you're really good at your job, because that's what you can rely on. And you're like, well, I'm going to hit my numbers, I'm going to do what I'm told. And I'm going to wait and ask to be told what to do so that I don't come off as pushy and assertive and annoying. And obviously, that runs a risk, right? Your career just sort of happens to you, and you're never in the driver's seat, and you're never in control of what's actually happening. So the first thing that I'd like you to investigate is, who are your role models? And who are the people that you look up to who are actually not pushy and assertive, but have made great, great strides in their career? Now, when I asked people this question, I often get no one. They'll say, honestly, I don't know anyone who looks like me, who is in leadership. And by looks like me, I mean, colour, gender, communication preferences, like I said, like introversion, right? So I don't know people who think like me, I don't know who people who look like me in leadership. We need you, right. So let's figure this out. Your organisation needs you to be at the leadership table, more proof that we need you in the executive team. And so we're going to figure this out in your way, in your magnificent way. So if you don't have role models, if you don't see people around you who are doing this, then first of all, I really challenge you to go out and find those role models, because they're doing interviews on podcasts, they're showing up on LinkedIn, they're talking from a place of their values, from a place of things that actually matter to them. They're thought leaders as well as corporate leaders. So start looking for those amazing people and surrounding yourself with them. And then the other thing is, the nature of communication is action, we don't learn how to become better communicators by reading in a book, we learn how to become better communicators by taking action. So if you think about dating, we don't want to come off as too forward. We don't want to be too pushy in dating and so what you have to do is just have to try it, and sometimes you're going to come off as a little annoying. Sometimes you're going to come off as a little bit too pushy, but then you try again. Now the challenge is your boss doesn't change. So in dating, you can try again on a new person, right, fresh start, we can try again! Well, your boss didn't change. So what happens if I'm a little bit too pushy? I would actually ask yourself, okay, so if I walk into my boss's office, and I asked my bosses, just literally what is it going to take to get me into a senior vice president position. So I walk into her office and I actually say those words because that can feel bold. I personally would say that it's not actually pushy, annoying, arrogant, or any of those things. I think your boss would be very excited to see you take your own professional development seriously. Then when your boss gives you specific criteria of what it's going to take to get you promoted, then you just start doing that stuff in action. So if your boss says that she wants you to speak up more in meetings, well, now we start speaking up more in meetings, right? And then we're actually doing it and we're seeing how it feels. And we're sharing our ideas in a more visionary and bold way. And 99% of the time, that boss will actually start giving you feedback that she's seeing you do what she told you to do. So then they feel proud. They're like, wow, you know, he really listens to what I say. That is actually really the more authentic way of speaking up for yourself or advocating for yourself is when you're always doing it from this place of truly communicating and having conversation and taking action from that place.
Jeremy Cline 31:19
So what steps can you take to demonstrate that you are doing what they've suggested? I mean, in some cases, speaking up in meetings, your boss can see whether or not you're speaking up for meetings, but there's going to be other things which they suggest you do where it's just not so visible. You said a few moments ago that you shouldn't kind of go into into boss's room and say, Hey, did you see me do this? Did you see me do this? How can you demonstrate that you're doing this sort of stuff.
Stacey Mayer 31:44
Another example of a specific thing that your boss will tend to say is that you need more visibility with the leadership team. So that's a big thing. Your boss can only get you promoted so far, if her bosses don't actually know anything about you. And so this happens in two ways. First of all, schedule a meeting with somebody on the executive team, look at it from more of a mentor type conversation, like I'm looking to, you know, advance my career, I really admire that you do XYZ really well. And I wanted to have a bigger conversation with you. And so now you're asking your boss, or your boss's boss, the same question, what is it gonna take for me to get into an SVP role? And then he's going to have a whole layer of opinions about what it would take to get you to that role. And then you're also going to say, oh, okay, great. And so then who else should I speak with? So you're just building these relationships, and then when your boss actually has a conversation with her boss about you, or even just in general, then 99% of the time, they're going to mention that you scheduled a meeting with them. Or you could also go back to your boss and be like, you know, I took your advice, right? Always say that 'I took your advice. It was really great advice. Thank you so much for giving me that amazing advice'. And I'm exaggerating there, but that's the feeling behind it. And then you're like, I actually scheduled a conversation with John, and it was so immensely useful and eye opening. So now you've just reported back to your boss that you did what she told you to do. So that's a great way to kind of circle around it. But ultimately do what they say. If you can start to do what they're suggesting, do what they say that you should do, you'll start to make progress.
Jeremy Cline 33:31
This is possibly veering off topic. But if you're say a situation where you're not sure that your boss necessarily has your back, but you have a really good relationship with their boss, I mean, how can you kind of manage that situation without getting involved in what could be quite messy office politics?
Stacey Mayer 33:50
Yes, yes. So first of all, you Jeremy, you know, but then also the person knows, like, I really shouldn't go above their head. Basically what you're saying is like, we don't want to go around them. And so don't. Don't go around them to get something. Build a relationship with your boss's boss, continue to build that relationship, have an amazing relationship with your boss's boss, have an amazing relationship with other peers of your boss's boss. Get all of those people on board. Get more and more and more and more and more and more people to love you. That's a great thing to do. Now, let's come back to your boss. So this is pretty typical is that your boss, either their hands are tied, or they just don't have enough influence at the organisation to actually get you to that next level. So what they'll do is they'll sort of defer it and they'll say things like, you know, maybe next year, or I'm just not sure. And you're like okay, and so what you want to do is neutralise that relationship, so you don't want to put your boss on the defensive because if your boss really does feel like their hands are tied and that they can't help you get promoted, you don't want to keep hammering that thing, because they'll start to see you as their annoying employee that just keeps coming into my office and asking for something that I can't give them. So now we go about it a little roundabout way. So now what we're trying to do is just build a solid relationship with that boss, and one of the ways that we can do that is to actually find out what matters to them. So if you ask your boss, if you say, you know, what are you working on, what's some of the strategy that you're working on, and you start to actually try and craft how you can influence that strategy, how you can actually get in there and help your boss. So instead of leaning away from your boss, and going above his head, you could lean into your boss and sort of understanding more about what he's working on and how you can support him in the meantime. Not going over his head, but building those relationships and making sure that you have all of those relationships, because at the end of the day, the people above your boss's head, because if your boss is feeling like his hands are tied, it's because he doesn't have that influence. At the end of the day, the people with real influence and power are all the people at the top. The other thing is, is that your organisation is gigantic, right? Generally, right, we have these small organisations. And if that's the case, or even if you're in a level, like a C-suite level where there's not a lot of lateral mobility, then that's when you're building those relationships outside of your organisation, you're starting to look elsewhere, because we can exhaust these possibilities till the cows come home. At the end of the day, if you have to look elsewhere, you have to look elsewhere, right? But there are ways to go about it first, before you have to look elsewhere.
Jeremy Cline 36:48
I'm conscious that we've covered an awful lot of stuff, and that there are going to be people out there who have listened to all this and are kind of feeling a little bit overwhelmed. I don't know if this is a fair question or not. But can you give people a starting point or a do this first kind of thing that will then help them you know, kickstart start the process?
Stacey Mayer 37:09
Yeah, totally, I love it. Like I said, the first thing that you want to do is to actually want a promotion. That is a great thing to acknowledge, to just say, I actually do care about this organisation, I do care about the work that I'm doing. I think that 2020/2021 is going to be my year that I start on this path. So that's the first place to start. And once you can say those words out loud to yourself, and actually say that and really explore that, you will start to notice what to do next. If you are somebody who's already said, of course, I want a promotion, I want a promotion, I've been wanting a promotion for a very, very long time. And so that ends up happening a lot, too, is okay, again, let's stop. Let's slow down. And let's really think about who are those influencers at my organisation? Who are those people that I really need to start building some relationships with. The other thing, and I'll send you the link to this, is I actually have a roadmap that I'd love to share with your audience that is seven steps to getting a promotion. And it actually takes you through step one, figure out this, step two, figure out this, step three, figure out this, right. So if we're driving across the country to a destination, it can feel really far away. But if we know the very next step, the very first thing that we need to do, and then you can skip some of the steps based on the work that you've already done.
Jeremy Cline 38:45
Fantastic. Yeah, that's something I can definitely put in the show notes. It's quite interesting this step one, acknowledge that you want the promotion, that you want to be promoted in the place that you're actually at. I wonder whether that could be turned around, this is probably a conversation for another day. But if someone says, I don't really see myself being promoted here, or I don't believe in the organisation so much that I want a position of seniority here, whether that's possibly indicative of a need to look around?
Stacey Mayer 39:13
Sure. Yeah. Well, so there's two things that you actually said there. One is I don't see a possibility of me getting promoted. And then the second one is, I don't see a fit here at this organisation.
Jeremy Cline 39:25
Yeah, so let's concentrate on the second one, I think.
Stacey Mayer 39:27
Right. That's somebody else's career expertise I guess is what I was gonna say. Because you're right. We know, in our gut, that this is not a great cultural fit for us, that this is not a great place for us. So what I would examine from my expertise is okay, yes, I will acknowledge that this is not the best fit for me - this organisation or culture, right. I would just ask yourself, so what am I going to do in the meantime? We're starting to apply for other jobs, we're looking, we're building relationships, we're thinking about what else is out there. But it's super useful to deal with whatever is not working for you at your organisation while you're still at your organisation. So if any of these communication strategies that I've mentioned today resonate with you, if any of these ideas about advocating for yourself, about thinking about what your next steps are really resonates with you, go for it. Go for it at your organisation, it's this perfect training ground, to prepare you and to give you that level of confidence that's going to help you interview, it's going to help you look towards the next organisation and what you want next, if you're actually doing it in real time, you're actually putting these practices and actually doing the work to get yourself to that next level, even at your organisation. And then at the end of the day, it gives you choices, so you can still walk away, you can still be like, you know, this isn't a great fit, and I've been offered an SVP position over here anyway so I'm going to go for that, because it's a better cultural fit for me.
Jeremy Cline 41:02
I love that idea of well, you know, why not use where you are as practice, even if you're not convinced you're going to stay there. You were talking about dating and how you get to try it with different people and that's not necessarily the case where it's your boss, well, if you're thinking maybe, okay, this isn't the sort of place I want to stay, well have the conversation with your boss, see if it works, because then if you do move on and you have another boss, then you can try it again and use that experience.
Stacey Mayer 41:30
Yeah, and just make sure you do it in a really real way with real stakes. Because I could also see this, and I have seen it with people where you start to make other people annoyed at you. So you get really bold, right? Corporations have rules right. There are politics that you need to navigate. And so if all of a sudden, you're just like, I have this idea, why don't you take it, you know, you start sort of speaking very flippantly because you have nothing to lose, because you're ready to quit anyway, that's not actually what I'm talking about. I'm talking about, let's be a little bit humble here and say, let's communicate with people in a really real way and say to your boss, or actually build relationships with the executive team, just whatever different things like that are for you while you're still at that job.
Jeremy Cline 42:18
In terms of things you might have that can help other people leave, leaving aside the link to your roadmap, which I'll put in the notes, but anything that either has helped you or has helped your clients, whether it's books, quotes, courses, anything like that. Is there anything that you can mention that the listeners can take a look at?
Stacey Mayer 42:38
So one of the things I've been thinking a lot about during this covid-19 crisis is that senior executives are built for crisis, right? Crisis management is a part of their job description. And what ended up happening for a lot of senior executives is that they come to life when they have something like a really big problem to solve. And I think that if we start to look at what is happening in our world right now, and we really think about this change and this uncertainty and normalise it as just being a part of life. So this goes into a little bit more about what my overall advice is. And I'm an avid meditator, and I'm looking, always looking at what are the root causes of my discomfort. And whenever I feel uncomfortable in something, and the crisis mantra for myself has been, you know, the root cause of suffering is basically wanting things to be different than they actually are. And if you look at any moment in your life, and you think to yourself, Why do I feel so uncomfortable? It's because I wish it was different. I wish it was different. I wish it was different. And if we just embrace this difference as being part of life, then so much freedom comes out on the other end. So I'd love to share this quote for your audience. It's actually from Pema Chodron who is a Buddhist nun, and she wrote an amazing amount of books on uncertainty and change. And they're just really incredible reads and I can share with you some of my favourites if you want to link to it. But this quote is just super helpful for me and for many leaders who are trying to navigate this crisis. Rather than being disheartened by the ambiguity, the uncertainty of life, what if we accepted it and relaxed into it? What if we said yes, this is the way it is. This is what it means to be human and decided to sit down and enjoy the ride. So I have changed that quote into this is what it means to be a senior executive leader. You are getting a crash course in the job that you actually want to be in someday. And so what if you could just sit back, enjoy the ride and really figure out what are the skills? What are the high performance leadership skills that I'm learning right now that are going to stay with me for the rest of my life and make me incredibly successful once I finally do reach that C-suite level.
Jeremy Cline 45:19
What was the name of the person from whom you you're quoting there?
Stacey Mayer 45:22
Jeremy Cline 45:29
Brilliant, and I will definitely link to that as well. On the subject of links, where can people find you?
Stacey Mayer 45:35
Yes. So you mentioned I have a podcast Maximise Your Career with Stacey Mayer. So definitely check that out. I give you all of these tools, and I break it down so that it feels very manageable, less overwhelming, and really practical steps so that you can start advancing your career. And then the second thing is this promotion roadmap. So you can go to staceymayer.com/roadmap and download that. It gives you the seven steps so that you can start mapping out how you're going to get your next promotion.
Jeremy Cline 46:11
Brilliant, thank you so much, and some brilliant tips here. Stacey, thank you so much for being on the podcast.
Stacey Mayer 46:18
Jeremy, this has been great. Thank you.
Jeremy Cline 46:21
Okay, I hope you enjoyed that interview with Stacey Mayer. Wow, there was an awful lot of stuff in there. The point that Stacy made, which I hadn't really thought about was this idea of promotion taking many forms. It's not just getting a new title, getting more money. But for example, being asked to be on a committee or lead a particular project. I'd never really thought about those sorts of things as promotions but I suppose in a way they are, I mean, it's someone who recognises in you that you can take responsibility for this particular thing or that you can add value to a particular forum. Okay, they might not in themselves mean that you are attaining a higher level of management within the organisation or necessarily being paid. But I guess if you see it as kind of part of the process, then it is effectively a form of promotion itself. I also like Stacey's suggestion of asking people their story, asking your boss or your boss's boss, how did they get their promotion? What was the process? How did it work for them? It's like we've talked about in previous episodes, if you see someone who is already doing what you aspire to do, well, the best way of finding out how to get there is to speak to them and ask them how they did it. There's the link to Stacey's promotion roadmap, and where you can find her contact details on the show notes page for this episode, which is at changeworklife.com/60. Now, we didn't really discuss in this episode how you know whether the promotion is right for you. But I've got a couple of exercises on the website. If you go to the menu item, "Find Career Happiness, there's a couple of exercises there, and the second of those exercises is about defining what you would like your life to look like. So in five years time thinking about different aspects of your life and thinking, well, in five years time, I would like this to look like this, and I would like this to look like that. And one of the things you can use that exercise for is to determine whether promotion is in fact right for you. If you go for a promotion, then does that lead you to the lifestyle that you've identified that you want in five years time? Will it help you get there? So do check out those exercises. Hopefully they might be useful for you in this context. As always, we've got another great interview to come next week, and I can't wait to see you then. Cheers. Bye.
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