Are you interested in getting promoted? As a leader, I would often have employees in my office, both within my own division as well as from others, come to me with a similar question…

“What do I need to do to get to the next level up?”

These were usually employees who felt they had been passed over or perhaps that a promo was just overdue. There were also a few who had just gotten advanced and wanted to figure out how to get to the next level even faster. Whatever the reason, there can be a bit of a mystery around the process and it’s important to know how to navigate these waters to ensure that you maximize your opportunities fully.

Consider these options:

1. Find out what the criterion is for promotion in your organization by looking at other promotions. Yes, sometimes promotions happen and they may not seem deserved, but look at several promotions over time…what do they have in common? Try to determine the criteria. What were these individuals engaged in before the promotion? A visible project? Sitting in for their manager in key meetings? You can also talk to your boss or a trusted mentor to find out what criteria really stand out. I once asked my boss what I needed to do for my next promotion. He was a Vice President and I was hoping for promotion to that level. He responded that I needed to deliver something that is a total game-changer. While his answer was vague, it did help me define what would get me to that next level.

2. Know who is in the room making decisions about your promotion. If you’re in a smaller company, it may likely be your boss and his boss. In a larger corporation, succession planning is usually done with your boss, their peers, and the boss’s boss. Ask your boss how decisions are made for promotion and set up a plan to get visible and network with those other leaders. Visibility is key. I’ve been in many succession meetings where peers offered a candidate for promotion, but if none of us knew that person, it was usually a deal-breaker for them.

3. Have a great relationship with your boss. Get to know your boss and allow them to know you. It’s important to have a great relationship with them as they are key to your promotion. Network and keep communication channels open. Consistently outperform your goals and responsibilities. Become indispensable!

4. Learn to promote yourself. Have a strong career brand and ensure that others (boss, peers, etc.) know your work. Your work may be great and you want to be noticed without having to crow about it. But “crowing” about your accomplishments is so important. Whether it’s a monthly status report or some other vehicle, think of ways to ensure others know all that you are doing and contributing.

5. Focus on results. Always. A Field Vice President I worked with loved to say, “Results aren’t everything….they’re the only thing.” Set your goals to deliver results. Have metrics and measurements for the work you do. Work with your boss and others on these metrics and show demonstrated results. Rather than “participating” in something, focus on “delivering” something of value that has an impact.

6. Research where you are in succession planning. For most major corporations, there are processes for managing succession planning and one of these is the 9 Box. It defines a person’s potential in terms of performance, with titles such as “Key Player” or “Rising Star.” It’s important to know where you stand in succession and your boss is the key to this.

7. Find a mentor, coach, and/or sponsor. Mentors are people in senior positions in the organization that can give you valuable feedback. You usually aren’t in their reporting structure (sometimes you might be). Coaches can be internal or external advisors. Finally, Sponsors are those senior individuals who observe your work and decide to take you “under their wing.” They are essential to promotions, especially at higher levels.

Use these tips and techniques to move you closer to that promotion to the next level.


Evaluate each of these and decide which one works best for you. Turn this into an action plan that you can create this week.



Up Coaching LLC.

Lupe S. Wood, MS, PCC, is a certified Career/Executive Coach. She coaches individuals and leaders to career fulfillment, transition, and advancement. She also consults for results with businesses and solopreneurs. Her background includes 12 years in senior leadership for a Fortune 100 corporation and 7 years as a coach, with a Master’s degree in Organizational Effectiveness and Executive Coaching.


For more information, please visit my website at



Lupe Wood
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