In my previous blog, I discussed why it’s important to build your followership. The next step is to identify those advocates who can help you in your career. Advocates are those internal and external stakeholders that have some interest in your success and can influence your success.
For example, your direct manager should be easy to picture meeting these two criteria. Let me stretch your notions of advocates and suggest your boss’ boss with whom you may not have a lot of day-to-day contact. Or, the CFO or CHRO of your organization. Their interest in your success or failure is not as relevant to your boss’ interests, but they do have some level of interest in your success. The reasons for this are:
- As a senior leader of any organization your responsibility is to ensure that there is a strong bench of talent and talent pipeline to help meet business goals.
- Turnover is very costly to organizations. So losing a leader, especially a high performer, could end up costing your organization 2X to 6X your annual compensation depending upon your job level.
- Having a high performing leader go to the competition is not very desirable and retaining talent should be in their best interests.
One special circumstance where identifying your advocates is critically important to your success is when you get promoted or hired into a new role. It’s essential during the first 90 days of your tenure to identify and spend time with your advocates to ensure you are successful.
Your Team and Peers
It’s really important not to lose sight of advocates you work with day-to-day. Your team members and peers can play key roles in your success or failure, so start with these individuals and build effective and trusting relationships.
For example, your direct reports have a lot to do with your success in general. In particular, if there is “noise” coming from your team that you are a poor leader, then that starts to make its way through formal and informal channels and can be devastating to your career. If your company conducts employee engagement surveys or uses 360 degree feedback for development or appraisal, there are ways the positive and negative of your leadership come out.
Peers are helpful if they advocate your leadership and contributions. To be realistic, if your manager wanted to promote you, would he or she get unanimous support from the team or a mutiny? It often happens where peers become bosses. So building and maintaining strong working relationships with your peer group is very important to your success.