How to prove you deserve your promotion

Subway platform with Mind the Gap warning

So, you got the promotion you’ve wanted and worked hard to achieve. Now what? 

Stepping successfully into a new role is easy in concept, but much harder in practice.

You need to:

  1. Know the type of leadership your new role requires
  2. Close any capability gaps
  3. Trust your team
  4. Be humble

To help you get started, we asked Delve executive coaching experts Cammela Teel, Katy Breuer, and Blair Brennan Slaughter to share their top tips to prove you deserve your promotion.

#1 Know what the role requires

When you move into a more senior leadership role, the skills and behaviors that got you to this point may not make you successful in your next role. As the saying goes, “What got you here won’t get you there.” 

This can apply whether you are managing a team for the first time or joining the executive suite. 

  • If you are moving into your first management role, your first task is to show up differently. Cammela explains, “As a new leader, the work will be done through others – you’re not the “doer” anymore. As a manager, you now must manage three things at once – your team, your own work, and your boss’s expectations.”
  • Those moving into executive roles should demonstrate their ability to be strategic, and the roles will generally require a greater degree of managing up. Katy adds, “In an executive role, delegating, motivating and setting strategic direction becomes much more important.” 

As you step into your new role, leave the past behind and take action. Talk to your boss and peers about your new responsibilities and deliverables and clarify their expectations. Find out what resources are available to you. Support yourself with a mentor or executive coach. 

#2  Close your gaps

It’s not just about the skills required of your new role. It’s about your reputation. 

Katy asks her clients, “If I were to interview the people in your team in three to six months, what words would you want them to use to describe you? And what types of things could you do every day to get that reputation that you want?” 

She cites an example, “If you want people to think you have a lot of influence, take a customized approach based on who you are trying to influence. First think about your audience and their desired outcomes.  Then, think about the approach. If you are meeting with a leader who wants a lot of detail, have the details ready. If you are meeting with one detail person and a big-picture person, have a high-level summary and the details in an appendix.” 

Be intentional about how you want to be perceived, especially in relation to character traits you highly value.

#3 Trust your team

Some senior leaders never get used to sitting in the strategy role. They still want to get into the weeds and know all the details. 

Cammela says, “In general, this isn’t helpful. Let the weeds go. That’s why you have a team. The opportunity here is for you to continue to grow – which happens when you let go and trust your team. This is better for your team too. When they come to you with a problem, instead of diving into the details, you can ask, ‘What do you think you should do?’” 

Trust your team to come up with solutions. Then they will learn to come to you – not just with a difficulty – but with a proposal to solve it. 

Trust goes both ways. Your job is to keep your manager informed about your team’s work, while keeping your team focused on moving forward – with the resources they need to succeed. To earn your team’s trust, protect and advocate for them. 

#4 Be Humble 

Ted Lasso: “Be curious, not judgemental.” 

This relates to you, too.

Blair advises her clients to be humble. She says, “Being overly confident creates blind spots.  Be clear when you don’t know something – you aren’t expected to know everything all at once.” 

You may say you don’t need a mentor, but the experience can be very helpful for leaders at all levels. New managers should join their company’s formal mentorship program if there is one available. Senior-level leaders might ask a trusted peer to share advice, ranging from minor organizational pitfalls to how to work effectively with the executive team. 

Getting started

Blair, Camella, and Katy agree – when you take on a new level of leadership, it’s normal for it not to feel normal. Sometimes the pivot can feel really difficult. Use our tips to help you get started.

And if you need help stepping successfully into your new role – and proving that you deserve to be there – reach out. We help leaders at all levels grow through the challenges and opportunities that come with a significant promotion.

Katy Breuer, MBA: Katy helps high-achieving leaders deliver results. She has a passion for inspiring people to maximize their potential, both professionally and personally, using their natural strengths. Katy’s extensive business experience serves as a solid backdrop to her empathetic and caring nature.

Blair Brennan Slaughter, PhD: As Founder and CEO of Delve Consulting, Blair helps her clients see how to best leverage their own and their organization’s strengths, while closing the gaps that prevent them from achieving their personal and organizational objectives. Her clients report that she effectively balances empathy, challenge, care, and intuitive problem solving when she links arms with them to solve their professional or organizational challenges. 

Cammela Teel, ACC, CPCC, PHR: Cammela brings over 25 years’ experience gained in the insurance, financial services and non-profit sectors. She leverages her experience in management, coaching and facilitation, to support her clients in increasing self-awareness, building confidence and achieving the results they want for themselves, their teams and their organizations.

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