Promotions are one of the most important decisions you’ll ever make.  They speak loudly and clearly.

People can promote based on who they like or who is like them – both are the wrong reasons.  You want to spend time with your buddies?  Take them to lunch but don’t promote them.  Promote those who can lead and think, do, and help in ways you can’t.

People can promote based upon technical knowledge or subject matter expertise.  Promotions are about leadership.  Leaders aren’t subject matter experts.  They have access to all the information and advisers they need.  They ask good questions.  The person who knows the most on the specific subject may not be able to lead.

People can promote based on length of service.  All that tells me is the number of years the person has worked here not how well they lead.

People promote based upon test scores.  I’ve never wanted to be led by really good test takers.  An exam score means little during a crisis.

People promote based on the past not the future.  Leadership is about the future.

Promotions are critical to culture.  You must be clear and consistent.  There can be no mixed messages.  That which we truly value must be evident in every promotion.

Integrity and the ability to optimize the contributions of others through effective leadership should govern promotions.