(2-minute read, plus questions)

Manager: “I know you’re hoping for a promotion, but it’s not going to happen this year.”

Employee: “I’m disappointed, especially since I’m delivering on my projects. Going forward, it would help me to understand your thinking.”

Manager: “Well, it’s nothing specific, but the feeling we have is that ‘you’re just not ready’.”


Have you ever heard this? I hear it a lot from my clients. Often, when I dig in deep, past the vagueness of ‘nothing specific’, the ‘just not ready’ part of the issue has something to do with presence.

At work, the word presence it’s often preceded by executive. We know what great Executive Presence looks like.

It’s the person who walks into a room, opens their mouth and everyone pays attention, remembers what they said and how they said it.

But Executive Presence is not only for executives. It’s an essential ingredient in your success and the speed with which your success comes.

ANYONE who wants to move up in an organization or be included in important conversations can work towards developing the behaviors, skills and characteristics we associate with people who have “it.”

That’s why I call it Promotable Presence. 

Promotable Presence is a big topic.

This month we’ll define and explain why it’s important to you and your organization. Over the next few months we’ll get into the tactics of developing and using Promotable Presence to:

  • Benefit your career
  • Strengthen your relationships at work and,
  • Contribute to the success of your organization.


Promotable Presence Defined

Promotable Presence is how you present yourself and are perceived by others.  It’s an impression formed by a combination of non-verbal and verbal indicators.

Non-verbal factors like physical appearance, body language, voice and eye contact all play a part in the impression you leave.These can be developed to communicate both confidence and humility.

Paired with competence in your skills, confidence in your actions and curiosity about your work, these elements form the impression you leave with others.


Why it’s Important

Decisions about you and your career are made when you’re not in the room.

When you thoughtfully and consistently show the person you want to be seen as, the impression will carry forward, even when you’re not there.

For the “show me the data on that” folks, a survey by Gartner ranked presence as second to business knowledge/acumen as the most important trait for an executive to possess. The survey is as relevant today as when it was fielded several years ago.


Beyond the personal value, improving your Promotable Presence contributes to your organization’s overall workplace culture. It defines you as a colleague, leader and an invaluable team member that can be trusted.

When you are seen as trustworthy, peers and colleagues are more willing to work on your behalf. This adds to overall productivity while giving you time to build new skills and work toward your professional development goals.


People with Promotable Presence tend to be better colleagues that often serve as an “invisible mentors” for junior staff. They set clear standards of conduct, leading by example and building trust and empathy into their relationships.

Ultimately, your boss will notice your behavior and how others in your organization are reacting. And this is what makes you ‘ready’ for advancement.


How to Start

As 2019 comes to a close, answer a few questions that will guide you over the next few months in helping you improve your Promotable Presence.

  1. Whom do you admire? Someone you work with? Someone outside you work orbit?  Historical figure?  
  2. List the characteristics or personality traits that got them on your list.
  3. How do you want to be perceived by others?
  4. What 5 key words do you want others to use when they describe you?
  5. What are the gaps between questions 1/2 and 3/4?

YOU have the ability to control and direct what people, including your boss, see and feel about you.

By actively developing your Promotable Presence, you put your best self forward and give your boss a reason to move you ahead.

In January we’ll talk about the role personal values and goals play in developing your presence and improve your chances of being promoted.


Wishing you a Peaceful and Fun Holiday Season

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