You have gotten to where you are based on a lot of things, but a key element of your success is your style. Are you the “expert/straight-forward/opinionated” person? Are you the “social/make everyone comfortable/cheerful” person? Or are you the “large/take charge/tell ’em the way it is” person? Which ever style you have, it has worked for you so far. What ever success you’ve had, you style has contributed to it. As you move up organizations, though, your style isn’t necessarily going to be as helpful at the next level.
Think About It
When you look up the organization chart, do the people have a style like yous? Or do they have a different style? What styles do you see? Are there a range of styles? Or does it seem that everyone above you has one style. Look closer. There are two possibilities.
The Top Has The Same Style As You
It is possible that you were hired in the ‘style’ of the organization. If so, then you need to check out the nuances of the styles of others above you. It may actually be harder to discern the ways in which you need to work on your style if the top of the organization has the same style as you. You have to look harder at what is different. Do they vary their style when they are talking to different people–customers or superiors or subordinates? Does that work well? Do they connect with you well? Are there people in the organization that they don’t connect with? Can you tell why?
The Top Has A Different Style Than You
This is actually more common, especially in bigger organizations. There are two aspects to this. The first is whether or not a different style is actually going to be more effective at a higher level in the organization. The second (and more important) is whether people making decisions about promoting you perceive that it takes a different style to be successful at the next level. Either way, you need to figure out whether you can/should adjust your style.
So How Do You Do That?
The first thing you need to do is overcome your reluctance to change your style. You style is not you. Think about the way you were in junior high school v. the way you were in high school v. the way you were in college. You had different styles, right? Those changes weren’t necessarily voluntary, but over time you learned to present yourself differently to fit in, to be comfortable in the situation, and to get what you wanted. You are different at work, at church and at home. A lot of this difference is external, a lot of it is style. The real you is more like the way you are at home, but you manage to (easily) be different at work.
What we’re talking about here is simply being deliberate about changing your “outside” style to be more effective. If you’re introverted and you’re a sales person, you figure out how to be more extroverted to be a good sales person. This is the same. What do you need to be ‘more’ of or ‘less’ of to be successful at the next level of the organization?