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It would be great if us humans were as predictable and as reliable as a sewing machine. We are not. We are conflicted by moods, emotions and feelings of well-being. Unfortunately, when your Boss is looking at who to promote, they don't always take our failings into account. However, those that get promoted always have some things in common.

Confident & Self Reliant
Successful people love people but they don't confuse that with being popular. To be confident you have to know yourself and that includes your weaknesses, failings and frailty. Confidence does come with experience but it's an attitude that is borne out of truth above all else. As Mark Twain said "If you tell the truth you don't have to remember anything"

Truth
No matter how difficult it may be, those that rise to the top are truthful. If they can't tell you that particular truth, they tend to tell you they can't tell you. That in itself, is being truthful!

Balanced
"When can our brain's innate objectivity begin to flourish? - Only when our inappropriate self-centred subjectivity begins to dissolve" ~ James Austin  We don't like bias. It naturally alienates and good people can't do that. Balance means 'fair' and fair means being objective. If you're not able to see their side of the picture then it's unlikely they'll want to see yours. The little voice in your head - the ego - can do a lot of damage if you listen to it for too long.

Calm
“A man of calm is like a shady tree. People who need shelter come to it.” ~Toba Beta
Few people like a storm, most people like calm. Those who climb high are rarely stormy. When they are, it's not easily forgotten

Happy Decisions
Calm people who are balanced and fair don't rush. They have a good reason. Isn't the old saying still true? "Fools rush in"
Instead, try this; "Never reply when you are angry. Never make a promise when you are happy. Never make a decision when you are sad" ~ Unknown

Hard work
Years ago I watched a young manager remonstrate with a whining employee. It was funny but there was depth to their exchange. It's no surprise that he went to the very top. "Of course it's hard, that's why it's called work". he said in mock surprised tones.
After all, isn't 'hard work' really just the work you do after you've already done that days hard work?

Values
"So what's important to you?" I asked the aspiring smart young interviewee. In no time at all, he had sprayed out 8 subjects that mattered hugely to him. The problem was, they didn't tally with his potential employer.
A good company is only good because it has good people. Good people have values and inevitably those values are for the greater good. It's never a surprise when real leaders get to the top and we all smile saying "I told you so"
Now think of the opposite.

Outside
Never before can your out of work behaviour be so easily monitored. Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are used not just to learn but to research. Yes indeed, the appraisal might have been 'good'. Yes, your work rate is 'good' and yes indeed, you dedicated some time to learning. However, it's what you said on social media that really bothered your boss. As the saying goes "Never put in print what you wouldn't want to appear in the papers" Or, let's update that to reflect your career ambitions ~ "Never say on-line what might show up at your interview"

Listen
Too many people listen with the intent to reply. Fewer listen with care. Not only do we hear that but we see it. Quite simply, you are only repeating what you've already learnt when you talk but as Larry King said ~ "I remind myself every morning: Nothing I say this day will teach me anything. So, if I'm going to learn, I must do it by listening"

Tough but Fair
Finally, good leaders are always 'tough but fair' and it's always said in that order. Being tough is not about being macho, a bully or controlling, it is about having clear vision, clear values and not letting go. Being tough can also mean being true. Being true to your idea, your ideals, your company, your brand and, most of all, to yourself.

In the end, they are the very qualities you look for when you want to promote. After all, the top of every mountain has very little standing room - that's why only the few will ever get there.

Conor Kenny is the Founder of www.conorkenny.com and the Author of Sales Tales - True Stories of How Great Sales Happen.
His 2nd book is due for publication in September 2015