Have your eye on a management position? If so, congratulations on setting your next career goal! The good news is, the competition is not as steep as it used to be in the past. According to a 2014 Harvard Business Review survey, only about a third (34 percent) of workers aspire to be in a leadership position.
The next thing you need to consider, however, is how to make it a reality. And often, it's not as easy as you think. As we all know, a promotion doesn't come automatically. In fact, many times qualified professionals are overlooked when it comes to promotions because that person has not positioned themselves effectively or correctly. Whether you are looking to be a general manager, VP or department leader, here are a few steps many professionals overlook that can help you accomplish your goal.
-- Track your performance. To demonstrate that you qualify for the position you want, don't expect them to be tracking your work and performance -- you need to do that. Keep a running document or spreadsheet with your work accomplishments, specific results and client testimonials. Keep specific records of the results -- quantifiable statistics -- you achieved as often as possible. Stay on top of industry trends and check for areas you could improve on; track those as well. Offer to take on extra projects or take classes for a strength you want to improve on in a leadership area. This process will help you become more qualified. Be mindful of the strengths you need to improve, not just in your current role, but in the next step up -- a leadership role.
-- Communicate with your superiors. Just because you are an accomplished employee doesn't mean that your superiors know that you want to advance your career. It's important to tell them. Most professionals who earn a promotion notified their superior about their career goals. Schedule a meeting with your boss. Let them know that you are happy in your current position, but that you have a goal to advance. Ask them for their input and advice on how to achieve that. Take advantage of performance reviews to ask for honest feedback, but don't wait until those meetings to garner their opinion. Ask for consistent honest feedback at all times. And, this goes without saying, put their advice and suggestions into practice. Show them that you're doing so; let them know along the way. This way they will know that you are willing to work to advance your career.
-- Act like a leader. Think about what you can do now to be a better leader in your organization. Can you be more inspirational to your team, or offer more suggestions for process improvement? Are you really living up to your potential? One way to gauge your leadership potential is to look at those who have the position that you would like to have. What qualities do they have, how do they handle themselves? While you don't want to simply copy them or pretend to be someone who you're not, identify soft skills you may need to develop. Perhaps you need to cultivate more patience, work on your communication or conflict resolution skills, or on a more basic level, dress more professionally. Think of two things that you could do this week to show your leadership potential.
-- Find a mentor. Do you have a mentor? Many business professionals do not, for various reasons. But really, a mentor is a big piece to career success. Mentors have already gone through the process of moving up the career ladder, so they can give you insight on how to do it and avoid pitfalls. A mentor could be someone in your organization, or in a different company or even in a different industry, depending on your need and what would be most helpful to you. The key is to find someone who you feel you can confide in. A mentor can be objective and honestly tell you how you can improve, what aspects of your job you could do better and offer advice that only an experienced business professional can offer.
Hallie Crawford is a certified career coach, speaker and author from Atlanta whose coaching company, HallieCrawford.com, helps people identify their ideal career path, navigate their career transition and nurture their careers. Her team of coaches works with people of all ages, has clients worldwide and has helped thousands of people achieve their career goals. She is also regularly featured as a career expert in the media, including CNN, Fox Business News, The Wall Street Journal, Kiplinger and Forbes.com.