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Want that promotion? Better raise your Executive Presence

Elephant blocking you on highway of promotion success


Ever been passed up for a much coveted promotion?

I have. I assure you, at that age it feels like apocalypse has happened. At the time, I honestly thought a giant elephant had blocked me on my highway to Success.

Here’s what happened.

Very early in my career as a trainee chartered accountant, I missed a promotion that meant a lot to me, in terms of opportunities, pay increment and peer competition. All because my Group Managers thought I was ‘too nice’ and needed some tough skin. Rather, the newly Paris-returned Lady Manager who didn’t know me had her reservations. To be fair, the male Managers thought I was ready but this lady had influence and charm and persuaded the Partners to go with her decision. Such is the way of office politics!

Excuse me?

I was a top performer, had done 2 prestigious industrial secondments, one of which was the 1988 Big Bang in London. Clients commended my work and considering that I was also studying towards my professional qualifications which I passed with flying colors each time, how on earth did my being nice get in the way of a promotion that carried a solid pay rise along with the coveted chance to lead an audit?

My Group Manager mumbled away and when I asked him how we would rectify this, the solution was a 6 month transfer to the Insolvency Department to toughen me up.

I guess his idea was that if I heard screaming creditors baying for blood on the telephone demanding money from companies that didn’t have any, I’d overcome this deficiency which I did.

6 months later, I got the promotion, pay rise and yes, led audits and even trained new aspiring chartered accountants. A year later I qualified and set off to trail blaze in the deserts of Qatar as the first lady auditor in the profession and that too during the Gulf War. Many more firsts and career achievements would follow in the years to come and I never looked back.

In hindsight, reflecting on an event that took place more than 25 years ago, I realize that my Managers were unable to actually tell me the exact deficiency in explicit terms but am grateful for the transfer to Insolvency where I learned a lot. It was also the event that triggered my interest in Transcendental Meditation (a suggestion courtesy my parents) and a passion for all things metaphysical.

They weren’t trying to demoralize an otherwise good employee but didn’t know how to give effective feedback and tell me that I needed more Gravitas and Executive Presence.

Gravitas is that undefined quality that is often difficult to define but you just know it’s there or not. The simplest example I can give is when heads turn when you walk into a room or people go ‘Wow’. You’ve got the look and the aura around you.

I’m not sure if the concept even existed at the time but I do know that a youngster at the beginning of her career felt confusion.

My case isn’t really unique. The majority of my coaching clients and consults have a similar issue where they don’t know why they aren’t getting promoted. That’s why I’ve written tons of posts on Executive Presence from different angles and even a Kindle book with strategies that are tried and tested to help readers and visitors to my website who aren’t quite ready to engage a coach who can fast track things with them.


Gravitas being a part for the promotion


Sometimes there are more specific concerns like confidence, delegation, project management or even ability to manage stress (based on a one-off assignment)   that are being masked by trite industrial jargon like leadership or  wow factor or even personal attributes that have nothing to do with their overall performance.

The point is that the person at the receiving end is clueless about how they can acquire this elusive quality which resembles a unicorn. Even Human Resources can have a challenge in explaining it.

The biggest problem is that even if you manage to find out the real reason for the overlook, people do form their own perceptions and you have to take proactive measures to change their view about you.

More often than not, you update your CV, deluge LinkedIn contacts and Executive Search firms with it and exit the company using explanations like better job opportunity or work life balance. Sometimes, you might decide to start your own business simply because you couldn’t decode the real message and feel you can do better flying solo – which isn’t such a bad thing provided you do it right.


How to Break through the Promotion Glass Ceiling


How do you break the glass ceiling and get promoted?


There are unwritten rules when it comes to advancing beyond a certain point in your career.

For sure, you need to be competent and good at your work and consistently ace those Key Performance Indices. You need to have the right ethics, character and integrity and demonstrate that you have the desire, ambition and drive to assume greater levels of responsibility.

But there is more to it. These are only core requirements. You also need to have Gravitas. Luckily, this is something you can develop and improve on.

Qualities that create awesome Gravitas include Confidence, Poise under Pressure, Decisiveness, Integrity, Emotional Intelligence, Reputation, Charisma to name a few. It’s not just Appearance although this plays a role in exuding Gravitas.

So far I’ve only mentioned the required characteristics. Even if you have all of them, you can still be knocked out of the game if you have weak interpersonal skills or if your core values are perceived to be misaligned with those of the organization.

You have to promote yourself to the Influencers but not at the risk of being too self-centered. It can feel like you are walking on egg shells sometimes but if you want your goal badly enough, you have to do whatever it takes to get there.

Ultimately it boils down to whether your seniors have confidence in your abilities to perform at the new position and it is up to you to demonstrate that you can do it. I go into 15 doable strategies in my Kindle book Get Noticed!.


Get Noticed with these 15 insider tips that raise your Executive Presence at work


The simplest tip that I can give is to zero in on your professional needs at each stage of your career and take proactive action after getting feedback from your boss and others who can give you an unbiased perspective.


Did you ever get bypassed for a promotion? How did you take course correcting action?



Learn more about how I can help you enhance your Executive Presence and Fast Track your next career move in 90 days here.

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Meet your coach

I believe the world would be a better place if high achieving professionals accepted setbacks and challenges to their careers as Wake Up Calls to embark on a Journey where their empowered course correcting actions create a New World Order that encompasses achieving their career aspirations & potential with authentic life balance.

I work with driven, passionate, talented and ambitious professionals who’ve hit a speed breaker in their business or career create their desired breakthrough reclaiming control of their situation with customized strategies and tactics that deliver results.

When my clients first reach out to me, they are not in a very happy place, needing clarity about themselves, their desires, chosen vocation and what will give them peace of mind. They are drawn to me for the very reasons that I highlight in Who Is Karmic Ally Coaching.

Their professional problems are playing havoc with other areas of their life. They know they need to take radical steps to change the status quo but they also know they need support and accountability to get them their desired result.

I really get it, because I’ve experienced that dark night of the Soul. I know firsthand the outcome of getting lost in my work rationalizing decisions that were detrimental to other aspects of my life.

I’ve struggled with and won battles of stress management, corporate politics, life balance and career decisions to emerge in a place where I can confidently say that I live my desired life according to my personal Manifesto and have created a business that provides me with a platform for my desired lifestyle and self-expression for myself. I want that for you too!

I adhere to the Certified Coaches Alliance Code of Ethics and Standards. A copy is available on request.
1st place BCB 2012
Email: Vatsala(at)karmicallycoaching(dot)com Phone:91 9818517664
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