A Winning Career Advancement Strategy

Some people, while not appearing better-educated, more qualified, or harder working than their peers, tend to get promoted. Is it pure luck? Favoritism? Or is it something else? My observation over a 30-year career in corporate America is that these “rising stars” do have something in common; actually, it’s several things:

  1. They start with end in mind. These folks take a new position with the thought of leaving it in better shape than when they took it. In other words, they create a new definition of what success look like for that particular position.

2. They quickly gain an understanding of what their boss really wants from them, i.e. her critical success factors and metrics, and how she likes to communicate. Treating your boss as your #1 internal customer is smart. I do not mean you should be an apple polisher, but develop a reputation as a “go to” resource and a problem solver who can take things off their plate and they will be looking for ways to utilize you in a bigger role somewhere else on their team. Or they will be singing your praises to their peers, and one will approach with a promotion opportunity in their department or division.

3. They work hard to identify talent below them and mentor people who can succeed them. This makes it easier to be promoted because their boss doesn’t have to worry about finding a suitable replacement. Also, by serving a selfless mentor of others they stand out as company-oriented team players with leadership skills before they have a title with “manager” in it. In short, by helping others grow, they get noticed. Some may say this is a bit altruistic. Perhaps in some organizations but in the best ones this is key trait they look for. By the way, the people they help along the way become a valuable network of supporters, and that’s not a bad thing…

Those who end up in the C suite often recount that early on they took a long-term view of their career and had a career strategic plan and several strong mentors. One Fortune 500 senior executive I interviewed said that one of his strategic plan items and a key to success in that company was knowing not just his boss’ job, but that person’s boss’ job too so he could help his boss get promoted! Other aspects of career strategic plan include behavioral assessments, skills inventories and a personal development plan to enhance the skills most important in your chosen field or career path.

Bottom Line: Successful companies have long-range goals and a strategic plan and so should individuals when it comes to their career. On the other hand, if you don’t know where you want to be in 5 or 10 years then as The Mad Hatter told Alice in Alice in Wonderland when she asked what road she should take “If you don’t know here you’re going it doesn’t matter which road you take”.

Frank Manfre www.frankmanfre.com



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Frank Manfre

Frank Manfre


Business consultant & coach w/ 35 years experience in leadership roles in for profit and nonprofit organizations focused on developing leaders & org health