Please note that this post contains affiliate links and any sales made through such links will reward me a small commission – at no extra cost for you.

It is a classic scenario- you want to move into a position of leadership, but your boss has passed you up for a promotion, again. You are frustrated and wondering “Why does this keep happening? Do they even care about me here?” 

Wait! Before you dust off that old resume, let me share with you the top 2 qualities that you must have to be promoted to a leadership position.

Quality #1 – Personal Stability and Growth

I have watched many teams succeed and fail over the last two decades. What stands out to me in particular is the leaders on winning teams had a couple things going for them: personal stability and dedication to personal growth.

What is Personal Stability?

When I speak of Personal Stability, I mean that person had a consistent pattern to their life. They are solid and dependable in all circumstances. It is rare that their friends and family were surprised by their actions, and never is there a concern as to their personal safety or sanity.

In the workplace, I know that I can depend on this sort of person day in and day out, because I have confidence that they will be right there beside me– in good times and in rough times. I never worry that they suddenly would not show up for work, or a client or project would be left hanging due to their actions.

Be a stable person.

What is Personal Growth?

In addition to being stable, good leaders also practice personal growth. In their off work hours they learn how to better themself.

I firmly believe that no person can grow professionally without first growing themself personally. If you do not have a drive to improve yourself at home that will not suddenly change when you are on the clock.

Have a personal growth plan, in action.

A great book to read on personal growth is The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth by John C. Maxwell

Quality #2 – Career Roadmap

While it is true that some people have gotten ahead in life without a plan, I generally ascribe that to dumb luck. Right place right time. If you want to move up that corporate ladder, it is crucial to have a plan, a career roadmap if you will.

A career roadmap does not need to be intricately detailed. Start simple. Let’s say you have been a developer for two years and your goal is to become Director of Engineering. A plausible roadmap may look something like:

  • Gain development skills
  • Get hired as a Junior Developer
  • Get promoted to Developer 
  • Get promoted to Senior Developer
  • Get promoted to Lead Developer
  • Get promoted to Engineering Manager
  • Get promoted to Director of Engineering

As you progress through the roadmap you will discover what is required to reach the next level. If you want to get to the next level,  you need to operate as if you were on the next level.

A Lead Developer is typically responsible for a team. Moving from a Senior Developer to a Lead position is no small jump. You go from being responsible for your own output, to being responsible for the output of an entire team. Not to mention client communication and interfacing with project management, and possibly other departments.

When I consider someone for a leadership position I ask myself the following questions:

  • Where are they going? I.E. What is the career roadmap?
  • Have they asked me for advice on how to get to the next step, or are they blindly hoping they know what it takes?
  • Have they asked for mentorship? 
  • What actions have they taken inside the company to prove their ability?

I mentioned mentorship- that is not a requirement, however it weighs heavily in their favor. For a good portion of my early career I did not have a mentor. It was like the blind leading the blind. Once I found a mentor my growth and leadership ability exploded. A good mentor will provide invaluable insight into where you are now, and guidance for where you are going to.

How to get back on track if you screwed up

A team member I worked with years ago recently called me up for advice. He was trying to get a leadership position in his company, but had been passed over twice for the promotion. As I probed him with questions I learned that there had been an incident in his personal life the previous year that spiraled out of control and had an impact on his work and the company itself. He is very capable of taking on the new role, but his leadership has concerns about his stability. I shared the above advice with him, and a simple plan on how he can overcome the stigma currently attached to his name.

In order to move up, he first needs to restore the trust and faith of his leadership. A great start is being completely transparent with them and bringing them a plan. Here is the plan:

Personal Life

  • Acknowledge and own the issues
  • Share what he did to address the original issue
  • Show the ongoing personal improvement plan and how he will stay aligned with it

Professional Life

  • Acknowledge and own the impact on the company
  • Ask what leadership requires to  show he is ready for the new position
  • Work on a plan, with leadership, to regain status
  • Request mentorship on a consistent schedule. Biweekly is a good starting point

If a member of my team came to me with that plan (and indeed a couple have!) I would certainly be impressed! I want my team to succeed. If you show me your drive and desire for improvement I will move heaven and earth to get you there, as any good leader will.

Pulling it all together

In summary, there are two qualities that you must have to be promoted to a leadership position:

  • Personal Stability and Growth
  • Career Roadmap

If you messed up somewhere along the way, do not fret. Your career is not over. Own your mistakes and work with your leadership on a plan that will get you back on track, and before you know it you will be coming back here to read about the traits of successful leaders!

Know that I WANT YOU TO SUCCEED! If you are struggling to reach that next level in your career and would like advice or mentorship then head on over to my contact page and let me know how I can help. I would love to hear from you.

Photo by BENCE BOROS on Unsplash