It’s not just relevant in today’s world; in fact, it’s been a requirement for as long as I can recall over my 30+ year career. What is it? Self Advocacy!

While it’s important to produce results to keep one’s current job, this is not necessarily the route to senior level or C-Suite positions. There is a difference between performance and potential. Strong performers are not always the ones selected for the most senior positions. Yes, they are valued for the results they deliver; however, that doesn’t mean that they are seen as the key future leaders of the organization.

So, what does one do when they have delivered results over “x” number of years and feel that they are being overlooked? The answer is to self–advocate. Tell people what you’re doing and show them that you think about and have strategies that impact the entire business and not just your own area/silo.

Women leaders have to get out of the mindset of: “I do a good job, follow the rules and therefore I will be recognized and promoted.” It doesn’t work that way. Remember, performance keeps you in the job you have – it doesn’t necessarily demonstrate what you can do.

To engage in self-advocacy, negotiate to gain the following:
Sponsor: A sponsor is a senior level leader who has the ability to put you in a new position – lateral or promotion. Find reasons to connect with senior leaders and seek out someone who you believe will see your current and future value to the organization. Use your connections or even HR to advocate on your behalf to find this key sponsor.
self advocate_ business womanSpecial Assignments: Special assignments definitely add to your workload. They also demonstrate your ability to handle more work and can allow you to demonstrate your strategic thinking abilities. There’s always something being considered or going on – ask for the assignment.

Development Workshops/Leadership Initiatives: Add to your portfolio of knowledge or leadership competencies. Self development is considered to be a strong leadership trait and making investments in your development is noticed. Negotiate to see if the company will sponsor your attendance at a higher level conference or program; and, if they refuse make the investment yourself. It will benefit you in your current company as well as make you more competitive in the marketplace. You need to continue refresh and update your leadership brand and competencies.

Women leaders need to get past the belief that they aren’t ready for a larger or more challenging assignment. No one – male or female – is ever fully qualified when they move to a new assignment or are promoted. There is always a learning curve – for everyone – always!

Women leaders also need to clearly identify their worth and contributions to the company so you can negotiate for the salary or promotion you want. Notice I’m not using the word “deserve” – that word doesn’t have relevance in the business world and is not a self advocating position.

Make the decision to let key people know you are open to new possibilities and identify what it is you want to do – level and job. If you’re vague, you may miss a golden opportunity. If you don’t get the answer you want, then you have to decide whether to stay in your current company or look somewhere else.

At the end of your career, your legacy will be that you determined your worth – not someone else!