Promotion barriers for leaders

Do you envision yourself in an executive role? Are you working hard to do your best work, get visibility and show your manager you have the right stuff?
There may be some hidden barriers to your promotion that you are not even aware of. They may not come up in a performance review, or even be mentioned by your boss, because they aren’t crucial to your current performance. But they can stand in the way when you are in the running for the BIG job.
As an executive coach, I talk with many senior executives about “executive presence.” For this column I’ll focus on the area of communications skills.
Here are a few:
Too long winded
One of the most important currencies for an executive is time. How they spend it determines their success. The last thing they want is to work with someone who drones on and on.
Long-winded managers who send two-page emails, or who ramble in a meeting are perceived as not being focused, analytical, or decisive.
To polish the skill on emails, take these steps: 
  • On emails, announce what you want the recipient to do in the subject line (“Decision approval needed on special shipment”).
  • Skip the background history, context, and all the surrounding circumstances, unless they are absolutely germane. Offer to provide all of that detail, if the person requests it.
  • Keep the email to no more than two short paragraphs. If you need more than that, you should pick up the phone.
For meetings:
  • State your main point first, not last. (Don’t think out loud, on the way to forming your point at the end. Do your thinking before you open your mouth.)
  • Follow up your point with one or two reasons to back it up. Visualize an egg timer in front of you with only two minutes worth of sand.
  •  Ask what others think.
Lack polished presentation skills
Some of the same brevity and structural rules apply here. Use an executive summary approach, such as:
  • This is why we’re here and what I need/want from you.
  • These are the facts you need to know to make the decision/ or come to a conclusion.
  • These are the pros and cons of each course of action.
  • This is what I recommend.
Not seeing the big picture
This shows up in many ways.  For example, someone who is too protective of his or her own people—they can do no wrong. Or, they make decisions that benefit their own department, but don’t take into account how it may hurt another group. Or, they are good at executing an action plan but not able to be strategic or innovative. Once you are in an executive role, you must be able to drill down into details, as well as scan the horizon for opportunities. 

Joan Lloyd is a Milwaukee based executive coach and organizational & leadership development strategist. She is known for her ability to help leaders and their teams achieve measurable, lasting improvements. Joan Lloyd & Associates, specializes in leadership development, organizational change and teambuilding, providing: executive coaching, CEO coaching & leader team coaching, 360-degree feedback processes, retreat facilitation and presentation skill coaching and small group labs. Contact Joan Lloyd & Associates at (414) 573-1616,, or 
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