If you are looking to be promoted, here is a quick reminder: doing your job well and exceeding expectations may land you a nice bonus, praise and accolades but unfortunately it may not be enough to get you promoted.

For 2 reasons 1/when the next level requires a different set of skills – most likely soft skills rather than the technical ones you already know, and 

2/ promotion decisions are made on potential so you will need to showcase yours to any person who is involved in the yeah or nay process.

And so getting promoted to Director/VP and above will require initiative, risk-taking and strategic communication, all of which are likely already among your top must-haves.  But as I would tell you as a career coach, I want you to look beyond the promotion and to focus on your career as a whole, and for that, you will need these 3 essential skills on your side.

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Skill #1: Resilience – also called perseverance, flexibility and adaptability

 

Your path to promotion may not follow a straight line. You’ll likely encounter setbacks – projects that flop, raise requests denied, roles you don’t land. Without resilience, these disappointments can derail motivation. 

Build emotional fortitude to bounce back from frustrations. Reframe rejection objectively rather than internalizing it into “I am not good enough”. Even when it is only in hindsight, a missed opportunity can give you valuable insights about how to do it differently or better, for the long haul. 

When you sustain self-belief despite hurdles, you allow that resourceful part of you to become your driver, rather than perfectionism or comparing to others.  

Mental agility and tenacity are your BFFs (whether you are seeking a promotion or not), they have the power to help you transform obstacles into opportunities. 

So remember to stay flexible, and adapt when new doors open even when things are not going the way you originally planned.

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Skill #2: Curiosity – also called humility, open-mindedness and embracing the spirit of “I don’t know what I don’t know”

Advancing your career requires continuing learning, not only the obvious technical stuff and keeping up to date, but accepting that you don’t know it all, even when you have reached mastery and expertise.

Easiest way to practice? Listen to different perspectives even and especially when they go against what you believe. Your confirmation bias will rarely be your ally when it is your only source of information.

Ask insightful questions to deepen perspective. Seek critical feedback to fuel your growth, not just validation. The most effective leaders maintain an insatiable appetite for self-improvement. 

Cultivate awareness of your own blind spots. Where might unexamined biases limit your thinking? What emerging trends or technologies could augment your skills?

The more you learn about the various aspects of your next level up and the more you showcase your ability to “speak your upper management language”, the less convincing others you’ll need to be promoted.

 

Skill #3: Emotional Intelligence – also called communication and management, and cultivation of healthy relationships and connections

 

How you make people feel reveals far more leadership potential than being technically a genius. High EQ enables you to motivate teams, resolve conflict, and influence stakeholders.

This skill, more than ever, is what will make or break your promotion potential, especially as you climb the corporate pyramid.

Hone active listening skills to build trust and respect. Express empathy when providing critical feedback. Look beneath anger and frustration to uncover hidden needs, adapting your style to empower others. 

Know how to self-regulate your own emotions before reacting. With self-awareness, compassion and understanding, you unite and inspire people to accomplish shared goals.

Always keep in mind: trust takes a lot of time to build and all it takes is a few mishaps to destroy years of goodwill and hard work. Your reputation will always be your most precious asset, guard it with your professionalism and your drive to achieve.

Of resilience, curiosity, emotional intelligence and overall bold ambition, which of these skills need strengthening for you right now? How could you demonstrate more of them in your current role? 

One last word: Commit to cultivating each one of them as part of the job. Over time, these mental muscles will empower you to show up as the leader you aspire to be. When the right promotion possibility appears, you’ll be ready to have the conversation with confidence, clarity and conviction.