How to show your manager you're leadership material

Diverse group of people sitting in a lecture, smiling.

We’re taught from a young age that the best way to climb the next step on the ladder and prove your metal in the workplace is through good old fashioned hard work. But the traditional model of the 9-5 workplace has changed. Now it’s not only about having excellent output and getting to your desk at the crack of dawn and leaving late that will catch the eye of your manager.

Today, things like the right attitude, having the ability to see the big picture and strong people skills play an important part in showcasing your leadership potential. Don’t get me wrong, you still need to be good at your job, but other qualities that show how you will respond in a leadership setting will play a crucial role in boosting your chances for that promotion.

Shift your mindset

Your mindset can have an important impact on your state of wellbeing and leadership approach. Scientifically, it’s proven that positivity can increase energy levels, reduce stress, and help improve focus and productivity. For example, in her book Mindset, Stanford University professor, Carol Dweck, describes people with a growth mindset as those who believe they can improve their skills and intelligence with effort and persistence. They embrace challenges, learn from mistakes and feedback, and applaud and learn from others’ success. This is in distinct contrast from those with a more fixed mindset who are less open to change and growth.

See the big picture

Another good way to show that you are worthy of that promotion is to demonstrate your ability to see the bigger picture. Taking a ‘helicopter view’ to see beyond your day-to-day and think strategically will maximise your efforts in helping the organisation. Developing this ability will empower you to better understand your organisation and how your role fits into the bigger picture.

This perspective will allow you to develop and articulate strategic suggestions to your manager. A helicopter view also lets you see how things are interconnected and gives you the power to influence at a higher level. There’s an adage that people get promoted to the role they are already working in, so first, you need to demonstrate that you’re at that level. There is no better way to do this than to rise above, consider all the parts of the system, think strategically about how to make improvements, and create efficiencies.

Play nice with others

This seems basic, right? It’s something you learn in kindergarten. However, the skills required to contribute to a pleasant and productive work environment – like collaboration, good communication, listening abilities, and generally being a good person – are just as important, if not more, than your technical skills. You could be the most technically competent person ever, but at the end of the day, if you’re not a team player or have a habit of causing conflict, chances are it’s being noticed, and you’re unlikely to be given the promotion.

So, it’s a good idea to adopt the golden rule in life and the workplace by being aware of how you treat others and the energy you bring to the room.

Sell what you do

Being good at self-PR is an attribute in any job. After all, you could be working your heart out and doing the best job ever and if you cannot properly articulate your achievements, your efforts may go unnoticed, and you may get overlooked come promotion time.

A high-potential employee takes opportunities to prove to their employer that they are an asset to the team, that they excel in their role and push themselves to continually improve.

Don’t let imposter syndrome get in the way of owning your achievements and ideas to your boss and your team. While you may at times doubt your abilities, promoting your contributions is not bragging – it’s a necessary part of your career. And lastly, make sure that you don’t forget to recognise those who helped make your accomplishments happen. It’s a positive thing to do and will pay off in the long run.

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