Navigating Leadership Changes: A Story of Missed Opportunities

In this episode of the Daring to Succeed podcast, I shared a story about a past client who missed out on a promotion opportunity due to not following through on a development plan set by his boss.

Despite his boss wanting to promote him, the lack of proof of his project management capabilities led to restructuring within the team. The client had to pivot his strategy and focus on securing a project manager position on another team.

The key takeaway was the importance of positioning oneself for a promotion well in advance, especially for leadership roles, by actively developing and showcasing the necessary skills and experience.

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Episode Transcript


And welcome to the Daring to Succeed podcast.

My name is Julianna Yau Yorgan and I’m a workplace strategist who teaches leaders how to show their value and increase their impact through Compassionate Strategy.

Today, I’m going to talk about a situation with a past client who was trying to turn his boss’ promotion into a promotion opportunity for himself.

It was actually a really great idea based on his career goals, his skillset and the team’s needs. 

His boss had been taking on both project management and people management responsibilities, and he wanted to take over the project management work.

So after he found out about her promotion, he proposed that she split her former accountabilities and he could move from being a Sr Analyst to being a Project Manager, while the people management responsibilities could sit with her replacement. 

Unfortunately his boss declined the suggestion, not because it was a bad one but because many of the discussions and decisions about how she would be replaced had already happened. 

He came to me to find out what he could do to recover the situation, and by then his options were rather limited. 

I was surprised because he had openly talked to his boss about wanting to become a Project Manager, and she even had a development plan for him.

But he admitted that he didn’t follow the plan she had laid out for him, and spent most of his time on his Analyst tasks rather than the Project Management tasks that she delegated to him.

The problem was that his boss had wanted to promote him, but didn’t have enough proof to show HER boss that he was capable of doing the project management work.

So when his boss was working with HER boss to plan out how they would replace her, his boss’s boss wasn’t confident that he could do the job and decided to restructure and reallocate the team’s work instead.

This included his boss’ boss taking on the project management work while she looked for a replacement manager.

This was because she felt the work was too important to risk with someone who couldn’t SHOW that he could do the work.

So when we put together his strategy for getting a promotion, he was a little devastated that he only had two realistic options:

One was to work with whoever his new boss would be to take over the project management work (and turn it into its own role), or

Two, target a PM position on another team.

His first option was still possible, but came with the unknowns of who his new boss would be, and when they would be in place.

So he decided he wanted to focus on getting a PM position on another team, while keeping the door open to working with his new boss, depending on who it was.

We fine tuned his strategy so he would focus on three things:

Prioritizing the few remaining PM tasks that his boss’ boss trusted him with, so that he could continue to show that he was capable of doing them,

Delegating his less critical Analyst work to others on the project team so that he would have time for the PM tasks, and

Re-engaging his past managers and advocates to more actively be positioned for a promotion to Project Manager when the opportunity came up in the future.

This plan allowed him to work both strategies at the same time without doubling up on work effort.

He ended up getting the promotion he wanted in less than a year, but I know he was disappointed with the extra time it took for him to reach his goals.

The lesson here is that you need to be working on positioning yourself for a promotion long before the opportunity becomes available–especially if it’s into a direct or indirect leadership position.

Because although for you it may be your next step and your next challenge in your career, leadership positions are also high stakes–even if you don’t have a team of staff or if you’re in a Team Lead or Supervisor role.

Except in work cultures where they typically promote people into leadership for their technical or industry knowledge, most hiring managers need demonstrable proof that you’re able to do the work they need to get done.

So if you’re working towards a leadership position, make sure you understand the work that’s important in that specific role and start working on developing and showing that experience now.

Because when the opportunity comes up, they need someone they can already trust is ready for the role.

And if you’re ready for your first leadership position but don’t know what steps to take, I can help.

I have custom plans where I will work with you to build your career roadmap one on one, and I’m also working with 5 people in July to chart their path to their first leadership role in 6 months or less.

Just DM me on LinkedIn or Instagram to see if either of these are right for you. 

Okay, that’s it for now. 

Stay tuned for my next solo episode in two weeks where I’ll share a story about a current client who took a different approach to responding to leadership changes above her.

See you next time!

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