Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared on FlexJobs.com.
Have you been in your current role for a while now and you’re starting to outgrow it? Motivated for a new challenge in leadership?
If so, you’re probably exploring how to set yourself up for a promotion.
When you’re considering a leadership role, it’s often the less tangible soft skills that managers are looking for.
While you will need to learn the technical knowledge, it’s how you interact with coworkers and clients that will determine whether or not the managers see you as leadership material.
Leadership Habits to Adopt to Get Promoted
It’s a classic conundrum. You need to display leadership skills to become a leader, but it’s really challenging to highlight those skills without being a leader yet.
So, how do you prove you have what it takes? You’ll need to seek small ways to be a leader within your current role through your daily interactions and overall work ethic.
Consider which of the following habits you could improve on.
1. Support Your Team Members
Find ways to support your coworkers’ growth and development. Depending on your position and the organization, that might mean stepping up to train or mentor newly hired team members.
Leaders look for the success of the entire team or organization, rather than focusing on their own.
When you’re in a team meeting or working on a project, make sure that everyone has a chance to be heard. Upper-level management is probably aware that the success of their leaders depends on their ability to motivate an entire team.
So, ensure that you have everyone’s best interests at heart, rather than only focusing on sharing your personal success.
2. Take Responsibility, but Give Credit
Most people talk about great leaders as the ones who have their back. That means you need to take responsibility if one of your tasks doesn’t go well instead of trying to shift the blame.
On the flip side, remember to give credit.
Suppose you’re a team leader and another team member truly rocked their portion of a project. Don’t take ownership for a result you didn’t orchestrate, but give credit where it’s due.
You’ll be helping to build goodwill and a more positive work environment, which is a highly desirable quality in a leader.
3. Think and Act Big-Picture
Reframe your focus to how your decisions today will affect the company in the future. Highlight an understanding of how you can grow business down the road with innovations that begin today.
One way to display that is by offering creative solutions that benefit more than just your team or department.
For example, suppose you’re in an entry-level marketing position. You might show your big-picture perspective by proposing a social media strategy that could benefit the company as a whole but won’t necessarily gain you anything directly.
You can also demonstrate a big-picture focus by working on long-term projects that will have an impact even after you’re promoted or transferred.
For example, you might create a new training journal that simplifies the training process or spearhead a unique, recurring volunteer opportunity in the community.
4. Be a Self-Starter
Do your best to show that you’re a self-starter who doesn’t need to be micromanaged. If you’re the type of person who is always coming up with new ideas and taking initiative, that’s a great sign that you have leadership potential.
One way to show that you’re a self-starter is to share your ideas with your boss or other members of management.
Don’t be afraid to speak up if you have an idea for a new project, process, or product. But remember to back up your proposal with data or examples.
5. Stretch Your Skills
Learn as much as you can about the role you’re aiming for. This means you should understand how the role fits in with other teams and deliverables.
For example, if you’re eager to work toward a sales manager position, ask for assignments that will allow you to shadow marketing and product development teams.
The more you understand the nuances of the role you’re after, the better prepared you’ll be to communicate how you can make an impact in that position.
6. Eagerly Seek Development
Try to demonstrate that you’re always looking for growth and development in your role and career. One way to do that is by regularly attending training courses and workshops, even if they’re not required.
If your company offers tuition reimbursement, take advantage of that benefit and sign up for relevant classes.
The more you can show that you’re actively trying to develop your skills, the more likely management will invest in your future.
7. Openly Discuss Your Goals
Once you’ve determined that you’d like a promotion, you should ask for a development conversation with your boss.
Ask for feedback on what you can work on and what goals they’d like to see you achieve to get ready for the next level.
8. Be the Positive Energy
When you’re eager for a promotion, avoid getting sucked into office politics and drama.
Even if you’re not the one to start it, if your name is tied into negative energy damaging the team, it can cause managers to shy away from moving you into a more impactful role.
Instead, try to be a positive force in the office. That doesn’t mean that you can’t have a bad day, but it does mean that any personal drama you’re having outside of work shouldn’t be common knowledge.
What should be known is that you’re a pleasant coworker that doesn’t cause anyone discomfort with explosive reactions or a lack of professional maturity.
9. Consistently Set the Example
When you get promoted, you’ll have to work hard to hold your direct reports accountable for their actions if you’re displaying a disregard for office standards. To show that you’re ready for more responsibility, always be professional in your interactions.
For example, you should always meet the dress code for the office. And you never want to be known as someone who’s frequently late or loses focus during meetings.
Do your best to stay organized and on top of your assignments. Whenever possible, submit them early and with a little extra polish.
And be willing to jump in and help when someone is struggling. Before long, your managers will recognize that you’re consistently going above and beyond.
Why You Might Not Be Getting Promoted
If you feel you’re ready for the next step but are not gaining any traction, it’s time to step back and consider what’s missing.
Ask yourself the following questions to determine where you could benefit from growth.
- Do I take feedback and criticism well?
- Have I learned every skill I need to set myself up for success?
- Does my manager know that I want the job?
- Is it possible that I’m too new for the role?
- Do I strive for independence or continually hesitate and wait for feedback?
Most often, if there is a disconnect between the work you’re doing and your goals, it’s because of a need for clarity in what upper management desires in that role.
Sitting down and creating a development plan with your manager is generally the most direct route to ensuring that you’re putting your energies to good use.
Choosing Your Next Career Goal
When you’ve set yourself up for success with the right skills and the best habits, what do you do if you’re still not gaining the promotion that you’ve been working toward?
Perhaps, at that point, it’s time to consider if your promotion might be more attainable with a different company. Take a moment to explore all of your opportunities and consider where the best long-term career growth can happen.