(NOTE: Fictitious names are used for our women leaders)
Jane is a Latina and a techie. She joined a Fortune 50 company, Technova and has shown her expertise in technology with distinction. When she joined the EWA program, sponsored by Technova, it was her perception that doing good work would continue to be her ticket to promotion. Indeed, for the past year due to the termination of her immediate boss and mentor, she had been doing the job of a vice president already. She knew that those above her thought she was doing a great job and she was given more and more authority over time, although not a more senior position.
Through the mentoring by former CEO’s who have been there and done that, using our analytical tools, it was clear to her mentor that excellent work would not be enough to ensure her promotion. She had to become political too.
“But that is just not my thing” she said, bemoaning the fact that she had always disliked politics in organizations.
“I get it,” her mentor agreed,” but if you want to rise you have to make it your thing. Good work is not the only asset that matters. It is who you know, who knows you, and who knows what you know, and that may not be immediately clear to you from where you sit right now. So, we are going to use our mapping tools to start the analysis of your organization and in that way, we will help you find the strategic places where you need to become known.”
“What is being political?” Jane asked, not sure that she was even willing to do this as it seemed almost manipulative and made her feel uncomfortable.
“It is understanding that you have to make others know what you want, ask for the promotion, set up your case then go and lobby those with influence and decision power, to help you achieve it. There is nothing dishonest about it. It requires SELF ADVOCATION namely advocating for yourself. Think of yourself as the product and advocate the way you would for one of your direct reports or a new service and product of the company” her mentor advised.
Over the next few months, Jane became more comfortable with what needed to be done. She started to see it as a game, and rather than dreading it, got into the habit of making the strategic mapping analysis as part of her plan for promotion as well as doing good work and leading others with competence.
There was a lot of turnover at the top levels of Technova. Jane’s potential promotion was in danger of being put on hold. She increased the pressure on those strategically placed to put it through, and for a month focused more on this than on her daily work product, which she could practically do well with her eyes closed anyway.
And then it happened. The day before her Cohort meeting, she received an email telling her that her promotion had gone through. And a significant raise was part of it.
Her cohort celebrated with her the next day – as did her mentor liaison and the whole network. This is what EWA is all about -and we are delighted for her success. We are already positioning her for her next promotion!