Make the Case for Building Your Team & Your Career

Make the Case for Building Your Team & Your Career

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It’s an unfortunate fact that many people feel “stuck” in middle management.

There’s a ceiling you can’t quite break, and apart from switching companies, you aren’t sure how to demonstrate you are the best candidate for a promotion.

There’s one tool at your disposal to help you get to that next level: your team. Believe it or not, those you manage say a lot about you and your abilities. They also help determine whether the higher-ups will bump you up, or fear you are too vital where you are.

Here’s how building your team can get you promoted — from showing your leadership abilities to getting in on tasks that drive the company’s success forward.

Your team should be able to function without you.

Sometimes managers do their jobs and their team’s jobs too well. They haven’t created a self-functioning team that effectively balances the line between thriving under leadership and relying on their manager. Remember, your metrics are important – but look closely to figure out where your team could have achieved that same success without your regular input and support.

Chances are if you can see that you’re indispensable, so will higher-ups — and keep you right where you are. Work on task delegation. Have regular check-ins with individual team members to see how they are doing. Encourage team members to work collaboratively and to follow guidelines. Let them know you don’t have to approve every action they take.

Protect your team from a leadership void.

Even if your team is self-functioning, they still need a leader. Not every successful employee is an appropriate manager. Before you get promoted, your bosses need to decide who will take your place. Sometimes you don’t have anyone in your team that is ready or willing to make that leap and other times hiring from the outside seems more challenging than simply keeping you in your current position and compounding that feeling of being stuck in middle management.

To make sure your bosses don’t have this dilemma, develop a leadership-in-training strategy. Sell your team members on the idea of advancing their own careers by learning how to do yours. Offer mentorship and the opportunity to develop a new skill set. Then when there’s a space at the executive table, you can recommend someone to take your place, temporarily if not permanently.

Current projects determine your next steps.

Members of executive leadership teams have diverse skill sets. They normally develop those skill sets at the lower management levels. Here’s where your team matters. If you hire people who bring new ideas and backgrounds to the table, it expands the horizons of what you can do. You can rely on your team to take on new projects or broaden the scope of your current responsibilities. You can also learn from their skills and ways of thinking and become a more dynamic thinker yourself.

When you hire a new team member, think long-term about how they can contribute. Try to have a vision of new directions you want your team to take and hire for those competencies. As your team finds new success, you will look more attractive to the executive team because of the creativity and out-of-the-box thinking you employ.

Taking initiative shows that you are executive material.

One prerequisite to entering the executive ranks is showing initiative. Your capacity to direct new ventures relies on the competencies of your team members. There’s no point in suggesting your people take the lead on a new project if they are likely to fail. So your team members’ abilities contribute directly to your success.

When contemplating how to distribute responsibilities among people, and when choosing new hires, think about what you can accomplish. Ask if your team can work in a cross-functional capacity with another sector or is agile enough to pivot at a moment’s notice. Your team’s flexibility leads to your capacity to suggest new ways of doing things — critical to your resume for an executive role.

Members of your team show support for your growth.

There’s tremendous value in being a good boss. Of course, it makes you feel good and should make your days go by more smoothly. But there’s an additional element when you are looking to move ahead in your career: you need allies.

If your team members like you, they will root for you. Not only will they be more likely to praise you to leadership, but they’ll be proud to share the team’s wins which reflects well on you. This adds to your favorable reputation within the organization. The higher-ups see you as someone who can support and motivate a team – a team that gets the job done. If you are well-liked, it makes it that much easier to nab that coveted space at the executive table.

Your Team Makes All the Difference

Sometimes it’s not a lack of motivation that leaves someone stuck in middle management. Often it’s not recognizing the tremendous potential that a team holds to contribute to the company’s success. By hiring smartly, demonstrating initiative, and grooming those under you to take your place, you can show your bosses you’re right for the executive team and stop being stuck in middle management. In the process, you will make more friends than enemies, with a happy and productive team focused on their own career paths within the company.

Check out our blog for more advice on advancing your career.

Catherine Lovering
About the Author
Catherine Lovering

Catherine Lovering has written on personal finance and careers for the past 10 years. She has been published on, Healthline, and Paste.

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