#148-Before You Promote Someone
John (Intro): I have been on a quest to learn everything I can about leadership obsessed with what makes the best leaders so good. After running companies small and large for the last 20 years, today I speak on stages all across the world to audiences who are interested in that same question. My name is John Laurito and I’m your host. I invite you to join me on this journey as we explore this topic: What makes the best leaders so good? Welcome to Tomorrow’s Leader.
John: All right, welcome to today’s episode of Tomorrow’s Leader, where we dove deep on all things leader-related, related to leading yourself and leading others, I am John Laurito, your host. Always have been. Always will be. So I wanted to talk today about the concept of promoting people. This is such a big topic. I just led a mastermind group. We’re talking about the concept of when to promote somebody, how you promote them. Do you promote people internally versus getting external candidates and what’s the value and the drawback, and all that kind of stuff so I figured I’d bring some of this to today’s episode. Here are a couple of thoughts on promoting people, some dos and don’ts, some things that I have learned in the past that have either been mistakes or things that I have done well. So I’m going to share some of that with you in an effort to help you do it better and even bigger than I ever did. So here’s a couple of thoughts.
John: When it comes to promoting people, one is one of the best things you can do for your organization and for someone’s career is to promote them, give them an opportunity to have a larger impact within your organization. And you’ve heard me talk about the most important things with A-players in your organization. They need three things and you can repeat them if you’ve listened to my episodes before three things. In order to keep them in your
organization, they need to, one, be growing.
John: They need to, secondly, feel like they’re making a big impact, as big of an impact as they can make. Third, they need to feel valued and important and appreciated. A promotion does all of those things. So it’s perfect and a perfect solution for those A-players that are contributing at a really high level. But there are some drawbacks and you can do it wrong. And I have done it wrong. And we’ve all chosen sometimes people and promoted people. And it’s been a mistake. And here’s a couple of things that led me to make the wrong decisions of promoting somebody.
John: It’s not always the case that someone who is an individual, a high-level producer will be a great leader. In fact, many times that is not the case. So don’t assume that because somebody is a great individual performing player that they will be a great captain or they’ll be a great coach. It doesn’t always work that way. Many times that individual player is driven by certain things that don’t really lend themselves to being a great leader. So they may be driven by those motivators, things like money and their own personal achievement and satisfaction and reaching and surpassing their previous goals.
John: And it’s just centered around them. And that’s OK. There’s nothing wrong with that. But as a leader, we know that dynamic, that personality, that style does not work as a leader. You have to be focused on other people. You’ve got to be focused on the team. So don’t just
assume that an individual who performs at a high level will make a great leader. I have made that mistake. I think just about every leader who has promoted people at one point or another has made that mistake before.
John: Secondly, one of the things I’ve done in the past, which I think can work very well, is when you have an opportunity, a new role, and you have the ability to promote people and you may have several candidates, that you let them know that they are in the running for this promotion. I’ve done that many times where I might have one role that’s opening up and I have three people that are competing for it. I’m very open with them to say that likely this candidate, this role will go to one of the three of you because of what you have done. But you have to be really careful to do a couple of things.
John: One is you’ve got to be super clear about what are the criteria that you’re going to use to select that person, that role that ultimately that leader. And you have to be clear from the beginning so that you set the kind of the ground rules for this competitive race, so to speak. The second thing, what you really have to be careful of is not to breathe the wrong type of competitiveness. I’ve done this before and unfortunately found that I had three people competing for a role, that we’re competing at such a high level. And they wanted it so badly that they became very siloed and it was really not a good type of competitiveness. They were working just for their own benefit and not working to help each other, in fact, in some cases working to not help each other. And that ultimately became very destructive.
John: So in retrospect, what I said to myself is, if I were going to do that again from the onset, I would state that one of the most important criteria that I’m looking for is teamwork and collaboration. So I am going to be making this decision on promoting somebody based on how well you work with other members of the team, including the people that you were competing against, so to speak, for this position. That’s one of the criteria. So if I see you doing things that don’t contribute to other people becoming better and aren’t in it, aren’t you’re not collaborating. You’re not working as a team, you won’t be a candidate for this role. I think that’s really important.
John: The last thing I will say is if you have the opportunity, sometimes you don’t, but if you have the opportunity to see someone in action, in a leadership type of role, by all means, do it once you’ve committed to somebody and you’ve promoted them. If it’s a disaster or it’s just
not the success you were looking forward to, it can be very consequential. It can ultimately have a lot of clout, causing a lot of collateral damage. And it’s hard to undo. Once you have somebody in that role, you can’t easily get them out and you can’t get them out quickly if they are not a good fit. So hire slowly into that. Make sure you see them in action, give them opportunities to mentor other people, or take non-formal leadership roles where you can see how they do as much as you can, where you can see their skill sets that they will need to demonstrate in the role of leader.
John: So by all means, do everything you can to see somebody in a role beforehand. Try them out, let them know that I’ve done that before. I’ve actually had to remember hiring and this was two external candidates for a role. We were hiring for a recruiting position and we hired two people on a temporary basis. And we let them know right from the start that we were going to hire them both for a period of three months, or maybe it was six months. And then at the end, we would bring one of them on full time and it would be based on how we
see them in that role. And it turned out to be great. And we made the right decision because we had an opportunity to see them both perform in the role before actually making the commitment, the long-term commitment. So their drawbacks and positives with that. But ultimately, that can work out much more to your favorite.
John: The last point, I know I said that was going to be my last point. Here’s my last point. When you’re building your team, don’t just look to promote people internally. There’s value in bringing people from the outside. If your whole organization looks like you, that’s not a good thing. I remember times where I sat across the table with my whole team and brought up ideas and everybody would be nodding their head or everybody was shaking their head. We all agreed and it felt good at times, but it ultimately did not contribute to us being as good as we could have been. We needed different perspectives. We needed healthy disagreement. We needed a little bit of the conflict in the chaos and the candor and different perspectives and viewpoints and different skill sets.
John: When you build a leadership team, you can bring people from the outside that have vastly different skill sets than your team does that have been homegrown and groomed internally. When they all get groomed by you, they tend to have the same strengths and gaps. And ultimately that doesn’t work well for a really sound, well-rounded, comprehensive leadership team. You’re well served by bringing somebody in from the outside. The ideal is that you have people internally that have been developed and built based on the organization’s foundations for values and principles and how you do things.
John: And then you’ve got people from the outside that have come from maybe competition, maybe they’ve come from a whole different industry and they can bring an entirely different perspective that can be unbelievably valuable to that organization. So some tips, some thoughts on when you are thinking about promoting somebody to your organization or hiring somebody for a position. Just some thoughts that came from earlier today, a mastermind conversation that I had. So I’ve got to make it into an episode.
John: So hope you got some value to that short one. As always, I like to keep these short because I know our attention spans tend to be short. So I can give you something in five minutes versus ten. I’ll do it in this case, nine minutes instead of twenty. I’m going to do it and give you some good takeaways. So DM me, let me know what you think, share this. Subscribe, like, all that kind of good stuff. Go down below, give five-star reviews and I will see you next time.
John (Closing): Thanks for joining us on today’s episode of Tomorrow’s Leader. For suggestions, or inquiries, about having me at your next event, or personal coaching, reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org Once again, that’s email@example.com. Thanks! Lead on!