4 traits of highly promotable people

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Imagine you had the opportunity to sit down with a senior executive and get the straight-up truth about what it takes to stand out as a leader in today’s highly competitive workforce.

That’s exactly what I got when I interviewed Oracle executive John Hall about the most common characteristics of people in his organization who contribute the most value. Hall was more than happy to divulge the traits he looks for in new hires and candidates for promotion.

1. Adults only need apply.

If you’re brilliant but high maintenance, that won’t impress.

“I like to hire people who are smart but they have to work well with a team,” he explains. “I call it ‘adult behavior.’ They don’t have time or tolerance for office dramatics. We still have disputes and discussions, but at the end of day, I want a team that supports me and supports the business 100 percent. Working well as a team is critically important.”

2. Don’t tell me everything’s great.

“Yes” men and women with rose-colored glasses firmly in place need not apply, either, according to Hall. “The other thing that we’re really keen on,” he explains, “is being data-centric. I don’t need somebody to say, ‘Things are going well.’ I want them to say, ‘Hey, things are 6.7 percent better than last year’ or ‘They’re at negative 6.7 percent.’”

Speaking in those terms provides a tremendous amount of credibility when talking to senior executives and others in the industry. Get into the practice of presenting your thoughts with clearly defined facts, rather than fuzzy generalizations.

3. Take the baton and go for the finish line.

Being results-oriented is key. “At Oracle we have very specific objectives around revenue, margin, market share, customer satisfaction and quality,” Hall says.

He takes care to clearly define and communicate goals, then relies on team-members to drive toward those results with little hand-holding along the way. “I’ve had success with describing the finish line in extremely clear, data-centric terms. I tend to hire great people and make sure they know the objectives.”

Not clear what constitutes success in your role? Ask your manager to clarify your objectives, so you can measure and report your progress against clearly defined targets.

4. Set the integrity bar high.

Hall sets a high bar for integrity in his approach to things like customer service and how employees are treated. “When I surround myself with a team that’s got high integrity,” he explains, “it’s easy to maintain that standard.”

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Jo Miller, a women’s leadership speaker and founding editor of BeLeaderly.com, has hosted the NEW Leadership Academy webinar series since 2013.

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