Traditionally, women have been taught that there is one (and only one) way to advance to senior-level leadership positions:
Think, communicate, and behave like male executive leaders.
Here’s what I want YOU to do instead:
Practice executive discernment.
Executive discernment means leaning into the political climate at your organization and finding a way to make it work for you.
Because when you work within the system to advance your career…you can tap into the influence you need to make a bigger impact and create meaningful change – all from your spot at the executive leadership table.
And that, my friend, is what being a corporate badass is all about.
In this episode of Maximize Your Career with Stacy Mayer, I’ll show you how tapping into your executive discernment will make you unstoppable at your organization (and beyond).
This is the last episode in a three-part series I’m calling Becoming a Corporate Badass.
In each of these three episodes, I reveal a different set of skills you need to master to become an even bigger corporate badass than you already are.
I’m offering a free live webinar on “Why You’re Not Getting Promoted and the Blueprint to Fix It” If you want to develop the skills I teach you on my podcast so that you can finally get the recognition you deserve, sign up at stacymayer.com/getpromoted and learn how. There are limited spots, so don’t hesitate to sign up.
What You'll Learn:
- Why you may be holding back from practicing executive discernment right now
- The three key areas of executive discernment
- How learning how to manage your emotions will transform the way the executive team perceives you
- Why you need to know what gets your boss fired and promoted
- How to create the “right time, right place” for yourself
Listen to the Full Episode:
Featured on the Show:
- Ep #83: Becoming a Corporate Badass Part 1: Executive Embodiment
- Ep #84: Becoming a Corporate Badass Part 2: Executive Communication
- Download Stacy’s 7-Step Promotion Roadmap
- Connect with me on LinkedIn
- Join the next round of my 6-week group coaching intensive, Executive Ahead of Time
Hello, everyone, welcome to another episode of Maximize Your Career. I'm your host, Stacy Mayer, and super excited, as always, to be here with you again this week. This morning, I am especially thrilled because I just received an email from another Executive Ahead of Time graduate who not only received one promotion since she graduated from Executive Ahead of Time just four months ago; but she has received her second promotion since graduating from Executive Ahead of Time.
And I actually noticed this on LinkedIn, and I was like, 'Wait'! There was an update - it said that she had been promoted to another level. And I was like, 'Wait, is this your second promotion?' And she said, 'yes, as a matter of fact, it was.' And then I emailed her, of course, a ‘congratulations’. We went back and forth, and she shared with me that she wasn't going to update her LinkedIn status yet because she wanted to prove herself at her job first, and then she was going to update it in two or three months from now. But she remembered what I had shared with her, which is stop failing ahead of time and put yourself out there, own your accomplishments, be proud of what you have created for yourself. And so, she updated her LinkedIn status immediately. And I'm so glad that she did. She is such an inspiration for so many other corporate women looking to get themselves promoted to that next level. And I am going to share more about her story just because it's incredibly inspiring.
But for now, I just want to let you guys know that at the time that she joined Executive Ahead of Time, she wasn't sure if this was the right program for her. At the time, she joined Executive Ahead of Time, she wasn't sure, she wasn't sure that she was ready for that next level of leadership. She had imposter syndrome. She had a difficult boss. She had never managed a team before. And so, she had a lot of self-doubt, yet she was an incredible leader. And throughout the course of the six-week program, I really showed her how to believe in herself and how to just do it anyway, even before you're ready. And so, I am incredibly, incredibly proud of her. And I am so thrilled for her company because she is going to be an absolutely fantastic asset to her organization. I'm so excited.
And another thing, as you can tell, I'm just over-bubbling. And another thing is she is not the first person who has received a skip level or two promotions after graduating from the program. We had another woman who just graduated in April as well, who received a skip level promotion just a month after the program ends. Now, I know Executive Ahead of Time, the milestones aren't just about getting a promotion. But as you know, I am on a mission to bring more diversity to the leadership table by getting a thousand powerhouse corporate women promoted every single year into executive leadership positions.
And so, this is my core mission. Yes, I want us to feel happier at work, but I also want us to really be able to make that impact and see the change that we want to see at our organizations. And so my big round of applause for every single woman who comes through the program and really takes the time to invest in their career, to own their career path; Because no matter where you end up by the end of 2021, if you start to take these steps and you make this progress forward, you are going to make a bigger impact at your organization and you're going to feel happier about the work that you do. You're going to show up in a bigger, bolder way. I am so delighted to be able to bring you this process inside of Executive Ahead of Time. This is my life's work. This is why I do the work that I do. And I'm just so pumped and excited to share this with you. So, thank you for listening. If you are ready to take your own career to that next level, even if you're unsure, but you just feel that little pull that I invite you to go to ExecutiveAheadOfTime.com - that's ExecutiveAheadOfTime.com
We start our first coaching session on September 3rd - but don't delay. Get in there right now because I want you to start saying yes to yourself today. Sign up and I can't wait to see you there. So, before we start today's episode, in addition to these celebrations, I also want to share with you the core principles behind Executive Ahead of Time. And don't worry, this is going to feed into what I'm talking about today, which is 'executive discernment'. Actually, why don't I take a minute to set up what 'executive discernment' is and how this is part three of my three-part series on becoming a corporate badass at your organization.
So, when I shared this story about the woman who not only received one promotion but two promotions, she didn't receive those two promotions by NOT being a corporate badass. That's actually why she received them. She really owned her value that she has at the organization, and she put herself out there in a bigger, bolder way. And that is really what it means to become that corporate badass, to really believe in yourself inside and out. So, in this three-part podcast series, I have been sharing with you three different ways to start becoming a corporate badass today. In part one, I talked about executive embodiment. You've all heard about executive presence. But one of the challenges that I see with executive presence is that it feels outside of ourselves, and it feels like something we have to work really hard to obtain.
And some people feel like they're either born with it or they're not. No, I think that becoming an executive is part of your core. The woman who I spoke about, she's not perfect. And the woman who I spoke about, she's not perfect, but she did it anyway, she believed in herself and that's what I want you to start doing. That's ‘executive embodiment’. Are you truly showing up as that executive leader every single day? And it's not putting on a front. It's really owning your own authentic voice and your authentic power. And speaking of authentic voice, in Part Two, I shared with you the tools of executive communication. Inside of Executive Ahead of Time, I am teaching you how to think and communicate like a senior executive leader. And when we start to do that, we become that executive. We start to embody that executive and we do that through communication skills. And as part of those communication skills, some of it is listening, asking better questions, making sure that we're presenting solutions instead of problems. So go back after you listen to this one, Part Three, and listen to the first two episodes of the series; And you're really going to get a well-rounded view of what it means to become the executive ahead of time and a total corporate badass.
In today's episode, we're talking about executive discernment. And I want to be really clear in that we work for corporations. And so, one of the things about building trust at our corporation is that they need to trust that we can be that executive. And so, some of it is having a certain level of awareness around politics, around managing our emotions, how we're presenting ourselves. And traditionally when this is taught inside of women's leadership, or to women in general (so, back in the 80s and 90s when this was taught to women) it said you have to behave more like a man, more like the other executives in the room. But when I'm talking about 'executive discernment' - and I'm going to break all of this down in today's episode - I'm not talking about behaving more like a man and like the other executives in the room. What I am talking about is having an awareness of what that political climate is at your organization and figuring out what the heck you're going to do about it. That is being a corporate badass. We're not negating that this exists. We're not saying, 'well, screw it, I'm just going to go somewhere else'. We're working within the system to get ahead and advance our careers so that we can have real influence and make a bigger impact from the executive leadership table.
So, I'm going to be showing all of that to you. It's a really sticky point, especially for women as we start to feel like we have to become somebody else or we just have to give up and leave because we're like, 'I don't want to deal with this crap anymore.' And I see that a lot, too. And I want you to find a way that we can create that balance between the two. We can be aware of the corporate structure and all the limitations that that presents our career. But we can also still show up as that powerful, authentic executive that we know that we are. And one of the ways we're going to do that is by being a corporate badass. And so, when you graduate Executive Ahead of Time, I share with all of the women that come through the program my principles - the core principles - of becoming an executive ahead of time. And it is so inspiring and powerful, and it reminds us why we're doing this work. Because I know that a lot of you listening don't want to deal with the politics. We don't want to have to be discerning at our job. We wish we could just be free and be ourselves and be whoever we want to be. And I want you to do all of those things and love your life and be exactly who you are, while also understanding that there are some limitations and use those limitations.
So, in this episode, I'm going to be focusing on three key areas of disagreement. I'm going to be talking about managing our emotions, political judgment, what matters to your boss, what matters to the executive team and understanding 'right time, right place'.
So, let's start with managing our emotions. This is actually my favorite topic inside of Executive Ahead of Time. And one of the reasons that it's my favorite is because it's always been such a struggle and a challenge for me personally. But once I learned how to start to manage my emotions, I was pretty much unstoppable and have been ever since. So, what do I mean by managing our emotions? It means that I am in the driver's seat. I understand that my emotions are a tool and nothing else, right? It doesn't mean that there's something wrong with me. It doesn't mean I'm too emotional. It doesn't mean I'm not emotional. It doesn't mean I don't care. It's simply a body response to something that is happening around us. And when we can start to learn how not only to just notice our emotions, but to use our emotions in a way that can really benefit us. So let me tell you a little bit of backstory about me. So, I was born a very hyper redhead. I'm a Gemini, red hair, and freckles through and through. When I was young - we only have silent movies - and so you can tell that I'm talking nonstop on these videos. But you can't hear anything that I say, which is such a shame.
But I am talking nonstop. I had a lot of enthusiasm, excitement and emotional energy. And because I had that very hyper emotional energy, I also had a lot of the lows. I would get very upset, very easily. One time I'll never forget, I actually smashed my finger in the trunk of a car. And I think I was like 17 years old, and I pulled my finger out right away. It wasn't hurt. I didn't need stitches, but I screamed bloody murder. My mom used to say, 'I never know if you're dying or if you just kind of, like, got a little nick on your finger' because I was so emotional; and so, what I would call at the time - 'very passionate about things'.
And I know for a lot of the women listening that whether you're an incredibly emotional person or not, that you care. You care deeply about the work that you're doing and the conversations and the relationships that you're building. And number one, it's because you care - that you are a phenomenal leader. It's because of that depth of empathy and compassion that's going to make you an incredible and valuable asset to your leadership team. It's because you see things different, because you have intuition, because you notice other people and you notice those emotions in the room. That is why we need you at the leadership table. Yet it can often feel like those emotions get in our way.
And so, when I'm talking about 'executive discernment', probably what you've done thus far is you've tampered down your emotions. So, if you receive negative news or you get passed over for a promotion - you hold it together in the room or on the conversation - and then you go home and you cry and you feel very distraught and helpless and stuck. All valid choices. And I completely understand; but this is our coping mechanism, especially in the corporate world, is that we feel like we have to contain our emotions and not show our emotional state. And what I want to offer you is a third alternative. So, I want you to understand that having these emotional reactions are not bad. So that was something that I really, really had to understand for myself, because literally I thought of myself as a basket case sometimes. And if you're listening to this and you find yourself being very frustrated or annoyed a lot - I have clients that roll their eyes all the time - even if it's internally and nobody can see it. If you find yourself being that person, you probably also have a lot of judgment about it. You probably wish that you didn't have such visceral emotional reactions. And why is it that we wish that? It's because it takes up a lot of energy. So, for me, it was always about like, 'wow, I could really use my time a lot better if I wasn't spinning out all the time'. And so, I know a lot of you are spinning out.
And so, this third alternative in terms of 'executive discernment' and what I want you to start to understand and how you're going to work with your emotions, is that our emotions are a clue that something is off. And that's it. So, let's say you get passed over for a promotion. And so, you find out that they have hired somebody externally for the position that you were a shoo-in for; Maybe you were even promised it; or you didn't speak up and you wish you had - whatever that is. And you feel terrible inside. Of course, you're not going to go talk to anybody about it except for maybe your spouse, but you feel terrible. So, what do we blame it on? We blame it on ourselves. We sort of say, 'well, I should have done something or maybe I wasn't ready'. We blame it on the organization or our boss 'well they don't care about us'. But when I'm looking at ‘emotions are a clue that something is off’, I want to think about it a little bit neutrally. So, we're not going to tamp down our emotion, in terms of like, 'well, I got to shut that down and just suck it up and show back up at work'. And we're also not going to spin out about it and start blaming things on our boss and these situations or even ourselves and beating ourselves up.
Instead, this third alternative is we're going to say, 'Okay, well, what can I do differently?' We're going to start to manage our emotions. We're going to say, 'huh, that's interesting. I am very upset about this'. That probably means that I think I'm qualified to become an executive. I'm qualified for that position that I just got passed over for. So clearly, I'm passionate about it. What could I do differently? And you're going to spend your time and energy there rather than fighting it, fighting the system. So, when we think about what the executive team needs to see from us, they need to see that we are somebody who leans into the situation. So when you're managing your emotions and you get passed over for promotion instead of beating yourself up, going home, becoming disengaged, just kind of showing up at work and be like, 'fine, I'll just do my work, I'll suck it up.'; What we're going to do is we're going to start to map out what we're going to do differently so that we never get passed over for a promotion again. And that is going to require a certain level of leaning in. So, you're going to have a conversation with somebody in a very neutral way about, 'you know, what would it take for the next time an opportunity like this opens up for me to be the person in that role. That's a very neutral conversation, it's also a sign that you are an executive leader.
Would you show up with that level of conviction and say, 'All right, this happened, but I don't want it to happen again, let's make sure that this never happens again'? That is what I mean by 'executive discernment' and starting to manage our emotions. When we can have those powerful conversations with the leadership team and say, 'hey, what's it going to take for next time for me to be that person' and then actually take that feedback and do something about it, that is an incredibly powerful way to show them that you are ready for that next level of leadership.
The second place where we're going to start to practice executive discernment is in political judgment. So, we have to understand that our organization cares more about themselves than they do about us. And that's okay. It's very annoying - it's frustrating 'They should care about this', but then we're sort of like, 'well, we'd be out of a job if they cared a lot more about me than they do about the company or about making money'. And that is the nature of corporations, is they're there to serve the customer and to turn a profit. And when we can understand that, as it just is what it is, then we can practice 'executive discernment' in our executive level conversations.
So, when we're talking about an idea that we're passionate about or a solution that we want to propose, something that we want to share or get across at our organization, when we're doing that, we are doing it in a way that is more beneficial for them. Some people call this ‘WIIFEM’, which is - 'what's in it for them'. What's in it for them, for the organization, for your boss. This also begs the question - do you know what gets your boss fired or promoted? Think about that. What does your boss actually care about? So, when you are having conversations with your boss, you're not just talking about yourself and your problems and the situations. You're tying it in to what your boss cares about. What does the executive team care about? What does the organization care about? This is executive discernment. It's understanding the political climate of the organization and using our communication in a way that can actually be heard. Because when we tie it into what they care about, what they're working on, then they're actually going to start to listen to us and see us and trust that we have our organization's best interests in mind. I get a lot of clients that actually in their performance reviews, it says that they're very self-centered, that they only care about themselves, that they only care about their team. And it hurts because they're like, 'No, that's not true. That's not how I am. This is not true at all.' So, we know that it's not true, but when we're speaking so much from our own best interest in what we care about all the time and not tying what we care about into the higher organization's mission, it does start to come off that way. So that is another way that we're going to practice 'executive discernment'.
And the third way that you're going to practice it is understanding 'right time, right place'. So, you know that I teach that you shouldn't wait for your performance review to advocate for your promotion, that you advocate for your promotion year-round. But this doesn't mean that we're constantly talking about 'promote me, promote me, promote me, promote me'. When am I going to get promoted? Because that is not executive discernment. And you've had that person on your team that for whatever reason, they're not getting promoted. And it could just simply be that they're waiting for a promotion opportunity to open up and they're going to slide them right into it. But the more that person keeps coming up to you and saying, 'promote me, promote me, promote me', it starts to seem like they care more about themselves than the organization. So that's one extreme. And then the other extreme is waiting for your performance review to even advocate for your promotion. And that's not a great use of your time, because what happens is you have to wait and then it's just really up to them and whatever they've decided as to whether or not you're going to get promoted; and then if you don't get promoted, you have to wait another year for the next cycle.
So, what we're going to do in terms of executive discernment is we're going to understand this idea of 'right time, right place', and we're going to create 'right time, right place' for ourselves. So, it doesn't look like 'I want a promotion, you guys said, when can I get my promotion?' It's about being ready, having our business case, so when an opportunity opens up, let's say somebody does put in their resignation, we're ready to go. We've already built those relationships. We already have those allies. We've been doing 15-minute ally meetings all along the way. So, we know who to call. We know that conversation. We're ready to jump on it. So many people, when the opportunity presents itself, they go a little bit too slow. If you're creating 'right time, right place', you're ready. You're ready to insert yourself up. You're ready to raise your hand because your 3X vision is so clear. You're making powerful decisions about your career every single day.
That is understanding 'right time, right place'. Knowing when to speak up and when not to speak up. Knowing when to look for external opportunities and when it's not going to happen at your current organization and not making it all about you and your inability to become an executive leader. No. Your organization needs you in a higher-level executive role, and if it's not working out there, some other organization needs you in a higher-level executive role - because we need more of you at the top. The only way that my clients that I spoke about at the beginning of this episode got two promotions in a row is because they were already ready. They did the work inside of Executive Ahead of Time, they built those allies, they knew what their 3X vision was. They pulled themselves out of the weeds so that when the opportunity to get promoted presented itself, it was just like a no-brainer. That's what we're doing inside of Executive Ahead of Time. We are setting you up for success. You are going to be more successful once you actually get that promotion - if you're practicing executive discernment, if you know when to speak up, when not to speak up, when to ask good questions, you're staying engaged, you're leading into your career - you're not making it personal. When you start to become this executive - and really embodying this executive - you start to enjoy your work more. You stop spinning out all of the time.
I'm going to go back to my own personal story. Once I started to realize that my emotions were just clues to - 'something is just a little bit off' - Once I started to be able to understand how to work with those emotions, that is when I became the leader that you see today. I would not be able to empower you to get the recognition that you deserve, if I was so caught up in myself in whether or not it was the right time or if I'm saying the right thing or I don't know if I'm ready. No. At one point I just accepted that I was ready; that I was ready to be the leader that you guys needed me to be so that I could lead this mission of getting a thousand corporate women promoted each and every single year. Because we need more diversity at the leadership table. We need you to really be able to have that influence at the top.
And I am unbelievably compassionate and just fired up about helping you get there. So, I want you to go to ExecutiveAheadOfTime.com. I want you to join us in the program in the fall. And I really can't wait to see who gets their promotions next, who starts to be able to make the impact that I personally want to see in the corporate world, and that I know you do as well; and really starts to have that energy and enthusiasm and passion back to why they started, why they took this job in the first place. So, I hope it's you and come and join me inside of the program - and I can't wait to see you there. Take care. Bye.
About Your Host
Hi! I'm Stacy Mayer, a Certified Executive Coach and Promotion Strategist on a mission to bring more diversity to the leadership table by getting 1000 underrepresented corporate managers promoted into senior executive positions each year worldwide.
I help undervalued executives scale to the C-Suite using repositioning strategies that build your confidence and visibility, so you can earn the recognition and support you need from key stakeholders while embodying your unique leadership style.
My podcast “Women Changing Leadership with Stacy Mayer” tackles topics like executive communication, getting more respect in the workplace from challenging bosses and team members, and avoiding the common mistakes that sabotage career advancement.