Seeking a Promotion? What Aspiring Leaders Must Keep in Mind

For any ambitious career-minded professional, a promotion can be a direct road to your future success. Yet, while there are many distinct pathways toward the promotion itself, there are just as many routes that may lead you in the opposite direction. Moreover, well-intending workers may often, unwittingly, fall into some destructive habits while actively seeking advancement.

Promotion Advice - Man climbing ladder of suitcases


Therefore, what actions should career-minded professionals avoid when aiming for promotion?

  • Lack of Selectivity:  Although you want to appear ready and prepared for advancement, you do not necessarily want to portray that you are willing to take just any promotion. When you show that you have a definitive career objective, employers will be able recognize exactly where your ambition lies. While this does not mean you should turn down any and all opportunities that are not perfectly congruous with your target, you should still remain selective enough in your goals that you do not veer away from your original purpose.
  • Involvement in Office Politics:  Every company has its own unique culture; however, even in the best of work environments, there often occurs a fringe or subculture of “cliques” and an “outsiders vs. insiders” mentality. An employee looking to rise toward a leadership position must first show the qualities of an individual worthy of that responsibility.  A prospective leader knows to sidestep the griping contests, character slashing, and complaining about company policy that sometimes occurs behind the scenes. Naturally, everyone has these feelings from time to time, but leaders know the importance of morale and lead by example.
  • Complacency:  Complacency is one of the number one killers of progress on your career path. Never settle for mere proficiency. Nothing demonstrates the quality of a genuine candidate more than the pursuit of personal and professional growth. Always work to develop new skills, master old ones, and reach out to other professionals on your path.  Few things can reap a wider potential reward than developing strong networks and connections, and these benefits often come back to you when least expected.

More than One Way to the Top

Remember that progress doesn’t necessarily have to be vertical. Lateral moves within a company allow one to gain a broader expertise of operations as a whole, thereby increasing their net value exponentially. Never turn down a valuably suitable opportunity to move laterally within your company, as it is one of the best ways to gain a broader skill set while increasing your overall value to the organization.

Related:  When Should You Make a Lateral Career Move?

Timing Matters

Next is the vital consideration of proper timing and tact. It does little good to repeatedly hassle your superiors for a management position when there is simply not one available. Asking for too much too soon is also a strong red flag for those who make these decisions.  Rather, adjust your list of professional priorities accordingly, and act on them when the time is right.

Long-Term Effects

It is incredibly easy to get caught up in the appeal of any advancement, let alone a fully fledged promotion. Be that as it may, you must still ask yourself some serious questions, such as, “Can I see myself at this position in the long term?”; “How would this promotion affect my personal life?”  You’ve got to be thinking ahead with both patience and a smart strategy as your guide. If this new position moves you away from your 5-10 year goals, then the wisest course may be to maintain your current position until a more fitting opportunity arises.

Promotion Advice - Success sign with arrow

The Right Track

To conclude, here are a few prime examples of what employers are really seeking within their next promotion candidate, and it basically boils down to a simple trifecta:

  • Competence: While hierarchy must be respected, a good supervisor will always appreciate tactful correction and be willing both learn and look at issues from another perspective. Don’t be shy about voicing a solid opinion, but remember that highlighting an obstacle should always go hand-in-hand with presenting a solution.
  • Engagement: Demonstrate proficiency in all aspects of your position. Know your job, and do it well. However, don’t just stop there; always be on the lookout for a chance to help out colleagues and contribute to joint projects. This kind of participation gets noticed.
  • Positivity: Rarely overlooked but often downplayed, bringing good cheer and a positive attitude to the office every day is going to get you far.

With these tools in hand, you’ll be primed and ready to move forward in your professional career. Best of luck!


Fred Coon, CEO

At SC&C we offer Career Analysis to help senior decision-makers from all walks of life identify strategies and tactics to increase their value-add employment potential.