Every day is an interview
John Maxwell has said, “Leadership is built daily, not in a day.”
It’s a simple, yet profound truth. The choices you make and the actions you take each day build equity that makes you a person of influence at work, at home, or anywhere else in life.
It is the true path to promotion.
Here is a story where I experienced this principle in action.
One day I was called to meet with my management team. “John, we’re making some changes to the organization and you are part of them,” my boss said. “We are making you manager over half of the marketing team.”
As they explained the new structure, it became clear to me that 10 of my marketing peers would now be reporting to me. They were a bright and talented bunch. Many had been with the company and department much longer than me. Would they accept me in this new role?
Related: Leaders have followers
Still processing the sudden news, I raised this question. “Won’t they resent not having had the opportunity to interview for a new manager role?”
I’ll always remember the answer my director gave me.
“They interviewed for the job every day they walked in the door,” she said.
Her answer made me realize that every single day you are being evaluated by the value you bring. How do you position yourself for promotion in your day-to-day activities? There are many ways, but here is what I learned from this experience.
Bring creative ideas that improve the strategy, approach, work process, product, etc. The more ideas you bring, the more opportunities you have to innovate and improve the quality of work. Here is how that came into play in my story.
At that first meeting, my boss told me, “I want you to take that targeted catalog strategy you did, and expand it across the entire group. Lead the charge.”
When I first proposed the idea of producing catalogs, it was met with groans, eye-rolls and a unanimous, “We tried that and it didn’t work.” The company had produced a mammoth catalog with every one of thousands of products in it. It was expensive and a production headache.
But I had a different idea.
I created a series of smaller catalogs with product offerings that encouraged meaningful cross-sales to targeted customer segments. Products featured in these catalogs had the combination impact made popular by Amazon: people who bought this, also bought that.
The new strategy was so successful the management team wanted me to extend it across the whole department.
There are two kinds of people: those who identify problems, and those who identify solutions to problems. Those who offer solutions get promoted.
The targeted catalog strategy solved a number of business problems. One, it enabled us to reduce the number of solo campaigns, which cut costs and mail clutter. Two, we got smarter about targeting offers that drove inbound traffic and phone calls. And most importantly, it increased sales and profitability.
Do more than is required of you. It is the difference between seeing the opportunity and seizing the opportunity. Those who seize it, go beyond what is expected and find a way to do the work better, faster and more efficiently.
Others in my group determined catalogs did not work and chose to continue a strategy of expensive solo campaigns. I knew there had to be a better way and set out to find it. It was a risk with awesome rewards.
My big takeaway from this experience is that you really are interviewing every day. You may already have the job or the client or the customer, but promotion comes from the daily pursuit of awesomeness.
What are you doing today to be positioned for promotion?
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