How to Jumpstart A Career in Leadership

In this blog post you will learn about the steps aspiring leaders can take today to become a viable candidate for an entry level leadership role.

We’re sure you’ll agree when we say getting passed over for a promotion over and over again is frustrating. You’re the most tenured employee and the best performer, so you don’t understand why. Well, years of watching others get passed over have taught us that the reasons this happens are sometimes quite simple.

In today’s post, we’re going to share the challenges Aspiring leaders face when trying the land their very first promotion into leadership.

Aspiring Leaders

Aspiring leaders are people who are not yet in leadership roles. For example, they’re customer service representatives, bank tellers, registered nurses, teachers or credit analysts. Meaning, they’re in positions on the front line where their only responsibility is managing themselves and their individual performance.

If you’re an aspiring leader, this post is important because it provides you with information to help you avoid the challenges aspiring leaders face early in their careers, and improve your chances of landing your first leadership role.

The Challenges Faced by Aspiring Leaders?

1. They don’t know what they don’t know

Of course, they don’t because they’ve never been in a leadership role. Because of this, they shouldn’t be expected to know what higher-level leaders already know.

Truthfully, if you don’t know what you don’t know, you need to be open to hearing and getting feedback from others so that you learn what you need to know.

2. They think their promotability or their performance is based solely on their results

Their results are only part of their overall performance. They don’t realize that their performance is also based on how they go about getting results.

3. They don’t develop the skills needed in the role that they’re in

It’s important to understand and know what skills are necessary for the role that they currently hold. They must develop those skills.

4. They don’t lead from where they are

This means they don’t volunteer for opportunities or take roles that will allow them to show others what they’re made of.

5. They don’t disclose what they aspire to do

If no one knows what they desire in a career, then how can anyone help them develop and get to the next level?

What Aspiring Leaders Can Do To Avoid These Challenges?

1. Get to know who you are

Understand your values, beliefs, limiting beliefs, and personality type. You can learn more by working with a coach. Or, you can take a personality assessment such as the predictive index, DISC or a Myers Briggs.

The next step is to determine your career goals and decide on a position that aligns with who you are. After that, make sure you spend time understanding the skills required for the role so that you can set goals and develop those skills.

2. Know your strengths and weaknesses

Understanding your strengths and weaknesses will allow you to identify potential skill gaps. Skill Gaps are the differences in the skills required on the job and the actual skills you possess. If you have gaps in your skills, you must address those gaps if you desire to achieve any level of success.

3. Create an action plan

To experience success, you must create an action plan. Your action plan should contain your strengths, which you want to continue using and the gaps in your skills you want to develop.

4. Work your gaps

Identify specific activities to engage in to help you develop your skills.

5. Let your leader know your goals

Make sure your leader knows and understands your career goals. You need your leader to work with you and to be your advocate. Also, ask for periodic feedback to ensure you’re making progress as you work through your development plan.

6. Lead from where you are

You must lead from where you are, which means taking the opportunity to volunteer for roles or projects that allow you to demonstrate your leadership abilities.

Why Is This Information Important?

Your performance is evaluated through your encounters with others, your behavior and the results you produce.

In companies that leverage succession plans to develop talent for leadership roles, they’re constantly evaluating talent. The question is, are your part of the discussion? If you’re part of the discussion, that means you’re what’s called a HIPO or high potential employee. So, here’s how it goes; when senior leaders talk about HIPOs, they ask the following questions:

Is this person ready now? – Which means they’re ready immediately for that next leadership opportunity that comes available.

Are they ready soon? – Usually within the next six to nine months

Are they ready later? Usually more than nine to twelve months?

Are you a part of the discussion?

If you’re not a part of the discussion, you’re not a HIPO. If you’re not a HIPO but you want to be in a leadership role, there’s a problem. It’s your responsibility to put yourself in a position where you’re a part of the discussion to secure your spot as part of the bench strength.

The bottom line is this. If you take the opportunity to disclose your career aspirations and take the necessary steps to develop your skills, you’ll improve your chances of becoming a HIPO!

By taking opportunities to lead from where you are, and doing that well, means you’ll have a better chance of influencing your leader to be your advocate.

I’m asking you to think about everything in this post and think about if controlling the narrative matters. If controlling the narrative matters, and you take the steps mentioned in this post, you’re taking control of the conversation without having to be in the room!


First, you don’t know what you don’t know.It’s important that you’re open to feedback and learning more about what youneed to do to be successful.

You need to understand the skills and the competencies required in the role you desire. Ultimately, You’ll use the information to identify specific activities to help you develop your skills in preparation for that role.

As you work through your action plan, ask your leader for actionable feedback for the purpose of determining if your action plan is working, and you’re making progress.

Lead from where you are. If you’re not leading from where you are, you’re not taking the opportunity to show people what you’re made of. And, you’re not taking the opportunity to develop your skills through experience.

Make sure you’re vocal with your leader and others about your career desires. If you don’t, then how do you expect your leader to know they should advocate for you at the table?

Please download the guide called How to Become a Great Leader. The guide has great information and will help you decide what’s next.

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