Act like a manager and you will become one
First, there are some conditions to be met and second, you most probably must change your communication style. Let's see first what basics must be in place.
While you are thinking about being a manager you must do your work in a manner that nobody - from the doorman to the CEO - nobody can question your performance. It must be flawless.
This is the step number one and the most important one. If you aspire to be a manger forget two words: "good enough." With "good enough" attitude you'll be good enough to keep your present job and that's it.
Then, look around and find problems other are not willing to tackle. No matter from which department they may be, be brave and jump on them. You may also participate in out-of-the-company activities, joing a volunteer day, that all shows that you are proactive and not satisfied with just 9 to 5 work.
If you are leading a team or are a senior member, don't build your influence on "I'm the boss," instead, build your influence on helping others and coordinate your team. Coordination is a characteristic that every manager must have so if you can lead your team effortlessly that will be noticed on the top floor.
You must also be able to coordinate yourself. If you are thinking "Well, as a manager I'll have a secretary to remind me..." then you are not a managerial material. In fact, it is questionable are you a good worker material at all. You must know what you did, what you are doing and why, and what will you do, any given moment.
Now, let's say you are good at all that. What next?
First, build relationships and start small. If you are in an elevator with the top boss, don't stay at "Good morning." Find a topic about company life and show a) that you are interested how to achieve more and b) that you are not scared to talk to senior manager.
When talking to managers or the board, it's time to forget some words and enter new ones. "I" and "mine" should become "we" and "ours." Some people are doing that naturally and they are instantly recognized as potential leaders because that subtle change in the vocabulary shows that they care about the company as a whole, not just about their (possible higher) salary.
In communication, from a causal talk to a very important presentation in front of the board of directors, go straight to the point. They are managers, busy people, and they don't have time for long intros. You present the case, you explain it, you rest your case. Done. Everybody will appreciate your effort to do the job as fast and possible and save their time.
Wait, there are more words you should forget! If you are using phrases that means nothing, like "basically," "you know what I mean," "I must be honest," or if you are making pauses with "uhmm," just stop doing that. Those words and phrases show that you have nothing to say or you don't know how to say it. And that's bad because nobody needs a manager who can't clearly communicate the vision.
Yes, the vision. When talking to the highest management, don't talk about everyday problems, talk about the vision. So, instead of "If Marry does that and Frank this," try something like "The production department can lift the productivity by 5%." How they will do it, that's another story, it's on you to present the overall idea.
Then, it is easy to be nervous during your presentation if you are not an experienced presenter, so here are two bonus advice.
First, if you made a mistake and pronounce that word wrongly, just continue. When people are focused on the meaning, they will not notice small mistakes because our brain automatically corrects words withing a given context.
Second, put one concept in one sentence. Don't stuff the whole yearly plan in one sentence, nobody will understand you. And when you say something important - like a new concept or idea - make a pause. Pauses are very powerful way to give people time to think about the idea.
OK, OK, one more bonus tip. Before you go to stand in front of that scary board of directors you never saw before, go and buy yourself black shoes, good suit, and white shirt.
Regarding the tie, take the red one if you are absolutely sure about you capabilities. If you are, it will make you look stronger. But if you show a sign of weakness, the red tie will scream "I wan't to be a boss but I'm not ready." ■
What to read next
More inside POST
CEOs are returning to the boardroom Leadership