Jump the gap

1 March 2019



There are three key steps to jumping the ‘ladder gap’ to promotion, according to leadership coach Tara Fennessy.

In 'Don’t get overlooked for promotion', I spoke about the ‘ladder gap’ that finance professionals can face when seeking internal promotion: the situation where, despite your hard work, you’re overlooked in favour of less experienced peers or external hires. The good news is it’s within everyone’s capability to jump the gap; it just requires a little time out to consider and put into practice opportunities for career ‘recalibration’.

There are three steps to achieving this.

What is your message?

Starting with why someone does their job is key, as that’s where recalibration matters most.

The key is to articulate what you do at your very best; even better, try defining this in eight words or less! This is the message you should be communicating within your business.

Remember, it’s not about the day-to-day detail and technicalities of what you do, it’s about your vision and as such, it must resonate with stakeholders outside of your immediate team.

Outstanding impact

Spotting leaders who lack impact is easy; just ask them to list their key stakeholders. If they give fewer than 10, their impact tends to be very limited and very poor. Promotion starts becoming inevitable when a leader has the broad stakeholder outlook that enables them to deliver outstanding impact across the business - upwards, outwards and sideways.

Those who achieve outstanding impact find that clients are queuing up at their door, everyone wants to be in their team, other leaders ask them for advice and their people progress well.


When I speak with partners of Big Four firms, they are pretty clear why certain leaders are overlooked at promotion time; they say the talent promotable to the top 2% must be seen to be coping better, handling their workload easily and spending less time doing it. It’s not about eating your greens or getting eight hours sleep – leaders with wellbeing are relaxed, focused and resilient.

Experience has shown me that individuals who are mindful of all three of the above – and adjust their behaviour accordingly – quickly make that leap past even the most challenging rung on the career ladder.