How to Get a Promotion and Rise above the Competition (A lesson from Lee Iacocca)

Let me guess. You want to know how to get a promotion. Why wouldn’t you?  A better job brings more money, higher status and better visibility. And you could always use more money.  

You have salable skills. So, why don’t you get yourself a promotion? What’s standing in your way? 

Oh, I know. You fear competition. You are probably thinking… “Getting promoted is hard. It requires knowing the right people. And I don’t have connections in high places.”

 You are right. More often than not, it’s who you know, not what you know, that leads to promotion. But there’s a secret.

Things change when you rise above. How?

I can explain.  

Take Lee Iacocca’s story, for example. He has worked, as an unknown car sales manager, for Ford Motor in the Philadelphia district. But he rose above by driving change and innovation in his department. What did he do?


Long story short, in 1956 sales of Ford automobiles hit rock bottom in Lee’s district. Even worse, the district was ranked last in units sold nationwide. Lee Iacocca saw the struggle, the crisis and the threat, and turned the ordeal into a career opportunity. You’re about to find out how…

Lee Iacocca's strategy on how to get a promotion

 Lee Iacocca came up with a bold marketing planthe “56 for ’56” marketing programto increase car sales.


His plan turned the Philadelphia district into # 1 in units sold in the nation. Lee broke away from the status quo. How awesome was that?


“Did Lee get promoted?” you may ask. Not only did he get promoted, but he also rose above all competition in Ford Motor. Really?



According to Ralph Kisiel of the Automotive News:


“ “56 for ’56” idea won him a promotion to district manager of Washington, D.C. Just four years later, in November 1960, Iacocca was elected a vice president and was appointed general manager of Ford Division.” 

 This story has become my go-to case study when I coach smart talents on how to get a promotion

 My coaching interventions on how to get a promotion and escape unfair competition cover about 12 major points. Let me share 4 with you.  

#1- Do your homework. Pay close attention. Identify your company’s struggle, crisis and problemsor existential threats


#2- Spend your personal energy or time to create elements of solution to your company’s existential threats.


#3- Create products or solutions to the problems that keep your company’s leadership awake at night.


#4- Above all, as Steve Martin said, “Be so good they can’t ignore you.”


Have questions? Send us an email.

The coach
Coach Teddy Edouard is a lifelong learner, public speaker, writer, blogger and vlogger. He is the founder of Coaching for Better Learning, where he helps people and institutions build systems that lead to lasting improvement, growth, and success. He also teaches professionals how to protect their careers and use artificial intelligence (AI) as a career improvement ally.

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