Skip to content

Maxwell Executive Leadership Podcast #114: Promote Me, or Else!

November 26, 2020
Maxwell Executive Leadership Podcast #114: Promote Me, or Else!

Someone on your team is insisting that you promote them to a first line manager role. They desperately want to have a leadership title. To them, the only way to be a leader is to have a title. Unfortunately, this person is not ready for that position, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be a leader. Today, Chris and Perry talk about how to develop leadership (influence) even if you don’t have the title of a leader… yet.

Want to enhance your leadership as we come out of COVID-19? Consider working with The John Maxwell Company for  Executive Coaching.

Download our Learning Guide for this podcast!

Read the Transcript:

Perry Holley:    Welcome to the John Maxwell Executive Leadership podcast. Where our goal is to help you increase your reputation as a leader, increase your ability to influence others, and increase your ability to fully engage your team to deliver remarkable results. I am Perry Holley, a John Maxwell facilitator and coach.

Chris Goede:     And I’m Chris Goede, vice-president in The John Maxwell Company. Welcome and thank you for joining once again. As a reminder, and as we get started, don’t hesitate to visit There, you can leave a question for Perry and I, you can download the learner guide that Perry’s created for this episode. And if you want to learn more about The 5 Levels of Leadership, or even 360 content that we spent some time talking about, how we deliver that virtually or in actually organizations, don’t hesitate to let us know.

Well, I’m hoping today’s title gets to my leader. I hope Perry takes this, he came up with this title to help me out down the road. But today we’re going to talk about again, 360 degree principle. We’re thinking, we’re going to talk about “Promote Me or Else.” Perry, please take it here.

Perry Holley:    Yeah. When we think about leading from the middle, leading without a title, and one of my coaching clients told me he had a guy in his team that was insisting that he be promoted to a first line manager or else…

Chris Goede:     Or else what?

Perry Holley:    That’s what-

Chris Goede:     .

Perry Holley:    I don’t know. I said, “Yeah, or what?” That’s what I asked. Apparently this guy like so many actually we see, thinks that the only way he can be a leader, he’s stuck in the middle of the organization is that if he has a title, if he has the position of a leader or manager. So my thinking today was that we talk about how you develop leadership or influence as we define it, even if you don’t have the title yet. And that would’ve been helpful for this guy I’m coaching is that, if you’re leading a team, how can you get the people on your team to increase their influence with their peers and with you? And that would help improving performance, I think.

Chris Goede:     Love it, Perry. Well, there are some myths that come along with this principle, this concept that we’re talking to you about the 360º Leader, and then even just back to this promotion thing. So let’s go through and talk about a couple of them. And so the first one is the potential myth that I was thinking about. And it kind of came to mind in the 360, where someone believes they can’t reach their potential if they’re not a title leader. I can’t aspire to be the vice-president or whatever, because I’m not even the manager of this. Right? And so they ended up having that potential myth in their mind. But the truth is very few of us will ever be the top leader. Right? Very few of us will ever be there. Almost everyone is leading from somewhere in the middle of the organization and you should be leading in .

Perry Holley:    It’s a great point. Very few of us will ever become that top leader, but almost all of us are somewhere in the middle of the organization. But another myth as you were mentioning that is what we call the all or nothing myth, which says, “If I can’t get to the top, then I won’t even try to lead.” And, what do you do if you find yourself believing these myths, or if someone on your team express this type of thinking, that can be dangerous.

To be a Successful Leader, You Need Feedback on Your Leadership.

We’re excited to announce our new and improved Organizational Effectiveness Survey (OES). The OES gathers feedback from employees to give leaders and management the knowledge and action plans needed to develop a more effective and productive work environment. Our new version measures 4 areas of your business: Leadership, People, Strategy, and Performance. 

Chris Goede:     Yeah, absolutely. And it’s limiting, right? You don’t want people on your team that have this myth. Maybe it’s even something that you can talk about. And I think one of the things you want to be communicating is that if you think that way, you’re limiting yourself, and by limiting yourself you’re limiting, I think developing yourself. So if you have the myth, the mindset, then you’re limiting, you won’t develop yourself, which is also limiting… It’s compounding the problem for you even having the ability to be promoted. So it makes me think about, it’s a process. John, we talk a lot about that here, is that as a leader, as someone that has influence, it’s something that you need to be increasing your potential and your development on a day-to-day basis.

John says you should work on getting to the top of your game, not the top of the organization. And I think that’s something I really want people to take away, right? It’s not something to where you’re trying to achieve to get to a different… I think some of the greatest leaders never set out and say, “I want to be the CEO of this organization.” I think what they do is they set out and say, “I want to be the best leader that I can be kind of right where I’m at.” I’ve got a team member of mine in the past that said, “I want to lead people. I want to lead a team.” And I’m like, “Okay, that’s great. I love that. Love that. We’re going to kind of… Here’s a process. Here’s a part.”

I’m like, “What I need you to do is I need you to start developing yourself right now as if you were leading a team.” And they had one individual on their team and I wanted them to start leading them and developing that individual as if they were leading the team. So think about that from… Don’t limit yourself by doing that. And I think as you raise your leadership game and your ability to lead people and influence, that’s just going to give you the opportunities to be promoted in certain organizations .

Perry Holley:    Well, that brings up, there’s a couple of challenges. I think that many people in the middle feel having been there before myself, I understand. One of them was what we call the fulfillment challenge and that you’re really… I’m not fulfilled as a corporate person. I don’t feel that fulfillment in my job because I’m not the leader. And I think this is the result of tying your worth, seeing yourself, that my worth in this organization is only tied to how I feel about whether I’m leader or not. And if I’m the leader, I feel better about myself. If I’m not, I think you’ve got to be able to… If you want to be a better leader going to have to feel the… You have to have the drive to there, but you can feel unfulfilled by reporting up to a leader and not being the leader. So I think, where does my fulfillment come from in my work?

Chris Goede:     Well, and the reason that we would begin to question this is, a lot of us leaders like to be out front not the middle, and we begin to really question that fulfillment, we begin to question ourself if we’re not out in front. We got to get comfortable with being in the middle. And John teaches around leadership is more about this position, then position. We’ve talked about this a lot on this podcast about level one and how people view that as their influence and what that means. But in this situation, you can influence people from wherever you are, the bottom, the middle or the top. And you don’t have to feel like you’re a leader, if you’re only out front leading and influencing people, there shouldn’t be just fulfillment in that.

There are some ways to find fulfillment when influencing, even from the middle. One of those ways is to develop strong relationships with key people. And then future podcasts, we’re going to talk to our CEO, Marco about how do we influence people in peers, by building relationships? And I think the more you think about building relationships, and where you’re at in your leadership position without asking for promotion, they’ll come fulfillment from that.

Perry Holley:    Yeah. I think that definitely going to be good days and there’s going to be challenging days, no matter what. But if you have invested in those relationships, which is key the relationships, both with your peers, with your boss, with even people outside the organization, you not only increase your personal fulfillment, but you begin to increase your influence. And you’re also more inclined to define winning in terms of the team and not about you personally. I guess what I see so much with the people we coach that have strong teammates on their team that want to aspire to leadership as they don’t know… That they’re viewed so much, that leadership is a position.

So they keep looking at it. If I don’t have the title, If I don’t have the title, If I don’t have the title, when we could be some of your thoughts about this are about on your team. How do you help someone grow their influence, and really start focusing on influence more so than title, knowing that if you have the influence the title will probably come, but if I don’t have the influence is probably not going to come.

Chris Goede:     Yeah. And it goes back to again, I’m going to just come back to the five levels and it goes back to improving and strengthening level two influence. Okay. And where we talk about relationships and then tying into this. The more that you connect, remember where there’s difference between relating and connecting level two. You can do one or the other. If you don’t like relationships, you can connect. The more you can connect and the more you increase your influence with people by adding value to them, they’re going to want to hear from you more. They’re going to want to hear your input. They’re going to want you to be a part of decisions, and you’re going to continue to…

The greatest thing that I think you could hear as you’re figuring this whole thing out is, “Man, I wonder what Perry would do in that situation?” Even though you don’t have that title, but you’ve connected with people in a way that they’re like, “I wonder if?” Those are the beginning stages of giving you the heads up that you are increasing your influence with people. And it goes back around even that relationship. And so again, you got to encourage your people to increase the influence with their team. I think when you think about it, that way, it becomes about the team’s success above your success. And that for me is really where fulfillment can be found.

I think fulfillment is found in when I see people that I’ve invested in succeed greater, than I ever thought they could. And I also think there’s a lot of fulfillment with the team that you’re a part of actually succeed. So another challenge people trying to influence from the middle is fine is what we call the influence challenge.

Perry Holley:    Right.Chris Goede:     We’ve talked a lot about this going back and forth and leading others beyond your position is not easy. We’re going to go back, again, I’m going to refer to these five levels where people follow you because they have to at this level.

And you got to begin to think about how do I increase my influence with people that don’t work directly for you. The influence model works with people that are not on your team, that are on your team, that work for you, that you work for. And if you understand that model, you’ll understand the ability to influence people.

Perry Holley:    I think that’s the greatest transition in all of leadership is when you realize that people who were following you because they have to, now follow you or are influenced by you because they want to. I want to hear what you think. And so the question really becomes what would make someone want to follow your lead, your influence, even if you don’t have a title? So, your peer group. We’ve talked about that a little bit, and we’ll probably hear more about that, about how do you lead across that way? People follow people who care, they follow people with character. They follow people who are competent in their work. And these are all things that you can begin working on and developing day by day without a title, that will one day probably lead to the title.

Chris Goede:     That’s exactly right. I think also people follow consistency, which we ought to do an entire session on consistency compounds. John uses that phrase, but talking about being consistent as a leader and what that looks like, because I think that is a topic that a lot of leaders miss. And then also followers will follow people who are committed. Right? So just think about that. Think about obviously what Perry’s shared with you, and then think about those that are consistent, those are committed. Even if you just focus on those two things. The last two that we just talked about, you will increase your influence. I think people love consistency. I think consistency builds trust. And at the end of the day, trust is the currency to all influence.

Perry Holley:    You should tweet that, that’s good. . I guess, I will turn it back to you to wrap up. But it’s really natural, if you’re in the middle of an organization, you feel that a little bit of unfulfillment, about not having a title of a leader, that you can still be working on ways. And it’s like you said, it’s not done in a day. It’s done day by day to develop your influence. And when you’re awarded that title one day, you will then indeed have the influence needed to really be successful in that role. Not just a title that goes with it, people follow you because they want to. It’s the greatest thing in the world.

Chris Goede:     Yeah. And I’m just going to wrap up with this simple thought. A lot of people strive, and you should strive for promotions, love that. But I really want you to strive to figuring out, how do I lead as effectively, and with the most influence exactly where I’m at? And if you worry about that, and you worry about adding value to your team, about your leader, the organization, the rest of it’s going to take care of itself. I am not a big proponent of people that are out looking for that next promotion, that next opportunity. Just be right where your boots are today and do everything you can. Control what you can control in exactly what you’ve been put in there to do for your job responsibility. Grow and continue to build relationships and everything else will take care of itself.

Perry Holley:    Amen. Well, thank you, Chris. And thank you all for being here. If you want to learn more about these Five Levels of Leadership or the 360 Leader, you can do so at It’s also a place for you to leave a comment or a question we always love to hear from you. And we’re always grateful that you would spend this time with us each week. That’s all today from The John Maxwell Executive Leadership podcast.

Be the first to comment on "Maxwell Executive Leadership Podcast #114: Promote Me, or Else!"

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *