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  • Writer's pictureDr. Vera Alves

Want to be Promoted? Consider these factors. Part 2

Updated: Oct 27, 2021

Getting that promotion you’ve been aiming at for a long time may seem like “mission impossible.” Some people are outstanding at what they do, deliver great results, and are very much respected for their competence but are not selected for that leadership position available at the organization. Promotion decisions are often hard to understand. One reason is that the technical skills that have taken you this far are not enough to make you successful at the next level. Decision-makers often look into more than just technical competence. They also carefully consider soft skills.

Soft skills are abilities that help people interact with others. Some examples are emotional intelligence, communication skills, ability to work in teams and collaborate, negotiation skills, etc. Soft skills are harder to teach than more technical aspects and are fundamental in leadership. In the final installment of this two-part series, we will look into some soft skills that can play a decisive role in selection processes for a promotion, particularly to leadership positions.

Develop and demonstrate your leadership skills

Leadership skills are some of the most valuable assets you can develop. Some people may think that you are born with such abilities, but in reality, we can all develop our leadership capabilities throughout our lives. First, invest in understanding more about leadership styles, behaviors, and characteristics. Carefully analyze your traits and behaviors and identify your strengths and areas for improvement. Next, work on a leadership development plan to improve your abilities. This might mean expanding your knowledge, finding a mentor or sponsor that can give you sincere feedback, looking for coaching, developing your emotional intelligence, etc. Set goals towards the development of the skills you identify as necessary and in need of improvement.

Remember that we can lead without being in a management position. Take every opportunity to exercise your leadership skills while still in a more technical role. This will prepare you to be more successful in that position you are aiming at.

Cultivate a Growth Mindset

A growth mindset is “the belief that we can cultivate and improve upon our personal traits.”[1] This is fundamental for success as it means we believe in our potential to change for the better. We can be intentional in promoting such change. Some characteristics of people who have a growth mindset are persistence in the face of setbacks, embracing challenges, facing effort as a necessary step to mastering a goal, being open and learning from feedback, and finding inspiration in the success of others rather than resenting it.[1]

Humbly Brag

People who get promoted rarely sit quietly at their tables, hoping to get noticed. They take credit for their valuable contribution and showcase their efforts.[1] You need to be noticed for your contributions to the company. Become more active within your current role, identify the strengths you bring to the table, and look for opportunities to showcase both your effort and your results.

Getting to the next level requires some self-promotion. However, you need to avoid sounding arrogant or a solo rider. You need to balance competence and warmth. A hybrid approach in which you demonstrate assertive and non-assertive behaviors, like being competitive, self-promoting, and at the same time being interpersonal, sensitive, cooperative[2], can enable you to be equally competent and warm in your work environment. Leaders who display a hybrid leadership style tend to be perceived as effective while at the same time having followers who personally identify with them.[2]

Invest in self-awareness and relationship management

Self-awareness refers to the ability to accurately recognize your emotions when they happen and understand how you respond to different people and situations.[3] Relationship management is about your ability to use your own and other people’s emotions to manage relationships.[3] It encompasses your communication and coaching skills, your ability to manage conflicts, collaborate, build trust and rapport, tell the truth with compassion while at the same time, your ability to influence and inspire your colleagues. To enhance your chances of promotion to leadership positions, you need to invest in developing emotional intelligence, focusing particularly on self-awareness and relationship management.

To which extent do you observe these skills in the people who get promoted in your workplace? Have you invested in the development of these behaviors yourself? Let us know your thoughts on the promotion process and your tips on how to enhance promotion opportunities. Leave a comment here or send us an email at

Dr. Vera Alves is the Chief Consulting Officer at Leader Essentials Group, with extensive experience in leadership development and business management. With over 12 years of experience as a C-suite executive, Vera is highly skilled in the areas of leadership, strategic planning, operations management, organizational behavior, and change management. She possesses highly developed communication, training, and linguistic skills reflective of a very strong and charismatic leadership style.


[1]Boissiere, E. (2018). The secret to getting a promotion. Forbes. [2] Varghese, L., Lindeman, M. I. H., & Finkelstein, L. (2018). Dodging the double bind: The role of warmth and competence on the relationship between interview communication styles and perceptions of women’s hirability. European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, 27(4), 418-429. [3] Bradberry, T., & Greaves, J. (2009). Emotional Intelligence 2.0. TalentSmart.
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