Darryl Stewart
By Darryl Stewart

Who Should Get Promoted?

Many times people get promoted for the wrong reasons:

  1. They were really good at doing something specific or technical so it is assumed they would be good at supervising others doing that same kind of work. Like the great nurse who gets promoted to nursing supervisor.
  2. They were not very good at something specific or technical so the problem is solved by promoting them out of the front line. Like the bumbling teacher who gets promoted to principal.
man holding trophy
Photo by Nemo

When deciding who to promote to a position of authority, the performance of the person in a front line role is important, but we need to look much more at the holistic aspects of the person in the role such as:

  1. The character and integrity the person displays in the role.
  2. The desire to help others increase their performance and personal well-being.
  3. Communication and inter-personal skills.
  4. Basic competence for the front line work.

These are the criteria that truly matter when choosing who to promote into a leadership role.

By the above test the great nurse may or may not be a great leader of other nurses (she has 1 of the 4 requirements) and the bumbling teacher should never be promoted to principal (he is missing 1 of the 4).

Just having number 4 is only a small part of getting the promotion. In great organizations like yours and mine, everyone has basic competence for the work they are doing, so it really comes down to the other 3 factors.

How do we decide about the other 3 factors? Leaders take everything they know about each of the candidates based on what they have observed and they make a judgment as to who will make the best leader. We toss aside everything: seniority, sex, race, who wants it the most, who everyone thinks deserves it, and we pick the person best suited for the job.