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The Intangibles You Need to Move into a Management Role

The Intangibles You Need to Move into a Management Role

In my 15+ years of coaching executives, here are three typical intangible requirements of leadership roles:

  • Ability to collaborate.
  • Staying front of mind.
  • Developing a differentiating “edge.”

How do you collaborate, stay front of mind, and develop an edge?

Expand your relationships.

Use your lunch break. The best way to develop relationships is to break bread with people. Getting to know someone over a meal makes it easier to collaborate later.

Enroll your manager’s support. Let them know that you want to meet more people, and ask for their suggestions. The ones who are happy to help will refer you gladly, and the less-supportive ones will at least know your intentions so it won’t look like you’re going over their heads when you reach outside your immediate area.

Take it outside. Relationships are not only developed at the office. Don’t forget a company softball league or affinity group. You’ll meet people you don’t normally work with.

[Related: Five Big Lies That Block Your Progress and How to Conquer Them]

Maintain an ongoing presence – promotion decisions happen quickly.

Set weekly reminders. Let’s face it – you’re not going to remember to network with people. Set a reminder on your calendar to prompt you automatically. Then reach out to one, three, five people, whatever you can muster for the time you blocked off. It forces you to keep relationship management front-of-mind.

Send regular updates to your boss in-between official reviews. People are busy. Your boss can’t keep track of everything you’re doing. If you wait until the year-end review, you miss out on the other eleven months of the year. A regular update plan also forces you to be mindful that you’re getting regular results.

Update your LinkedIn status. Recommend an interesting article you’ve read (that happens to be related to what you do professionally). Celebrate the completion of a project – “excited to be more than halfway to our fundraising goal and still eight months to go!” Raising your profile outside your company can help raise your profile internally.

[Related: Three Common Personal Brand Mistakes and How to Fix Them]

Build a thought leadership platform.

Make a leadership role. You don’t have to wait for a promotion to get into a leadership role. Promote yourself by volunteering to put together a panel for your professional association or alma mater. This gives you official cover to research a topic of interest and network with people of interest. This also gives you a public result to share with your manager.

Get published. You don’t have to start a blog (but you could). You can guest post on an existing one, or write an insightful and engaging comment. You can post for your professional association or alma mater. You can give a quote or be a source for a journalist on one of their pieces.

Find your go-to superpower and nurture it. When I did executive reference checks, one of my favorite questions was, “What is [insert your name here] the go-to person for?” Well, what are you the go-to person for? What is the thing you do that makes people wonder, how do you do it? Everyone who is talented enough to advance into executive leadership has a superpower. If you don’t know what yours is, ask your colleagues, current and former, what your key strengths are. You’ll see a pattern and will now know what to highlight.

[Related: Why Careers Stall and How You Can Advance Your Career]


Caroline Ceniza-Levine is a longtime Ellevate member, Senior Contributor to Forbes Leadership, and career coach. Her mission is helping experienced professionals find work they love and earn more doing it. Visit the Dream Career Club to learn more and receive a free checklist of the 25 Career Mistakes Even Smart Professionals Make.

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