5 Steps to Land a Senior Management Role

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So, you want to become a senior manager. About time!

You do your job well, you show up and produce results, and think you’re ready to step up and land a senior management role. Assuming you’re already in a middle management position (junior manager level, to say the least), it’s only fitting that your next target is to work on another promotion. This time, it’s the senior management level you’re aiming for.

Deciding to climb the corporate ladder is one bold career move that not every employee is confident enough to make. Even for the most talented or skilled individual, transitioning from a junior position to a senior management role is an arduous task that leaves no room for hesitation. It won’t be easy, but if you’ve got your eyes set on a higher role or a better position, you should be ready to take on the challenges and hard work that come with it.

This article will cover how to…

  1. Make yourself visible
  2. Build your network
  3. Become a mentor
  4. Become a risk-taker
  5. Invest in your leadership skills

Step 1: Make Yourself Visible

Before getting promoted, you must be considered for the role first. That means the upper management should recognize your potential and be on top of their list when a key position becomes available. It’s not enough that you are leadership material—people who matter should see you as someone who can take on the role in the future.

Volunteering for complex and high-impact projects that no one else wants to tackle can give you an opportunity to be ‘seen’ by those on the upper level. Pay attention to company meetings and conferences to identify projects where the business may need help or benefit from a self-starter. Bosses easily see self-starters, potentially putting you high on the corporate ladder.

Need more tips to make yourself visible? Start with your personal branding and how you present yourself.

Work on Your Personal Branding

Think of yourself as a product you want to promote to a buyer. In this scenario, the upper executives are those you’re trying to dazzle, and you want them to see you as a product worth the investment. It makes sense to work on your personal branding so the organization will regard you as someone with leadership potential. 

Personal branding matters even when you’re not vying for a promotion. It’s what people associate with you when they think about you, especially when you’re not in the room. Do you have strong leadership skills? Do you take the initiative? Are you reliable? These are often the characteristics you may be associated with when people think of your personal branding. 

Building your personal brand and branding yourself all starts with a personal brand statement: a one to two sentence description that highlights your unique skills and how you can add value to your industry.

Your personal brand statement can include your skills, passions, and of course, your experience. A personal brand statement helps your audience—whether it’s your professional network or potential employers—understand who you are and what you have to offer.

This statement can help you market yourself as a professional looking to advance your career or can be used to leverage your business if you’re a business owner looking to expand your company. Some additional benefits of a personal brand statement include:

  • Differentiating yourself from others in your industry: Your personal brand statement can help you stand out from your competition and help your audience understand what unique value adds you can bring to the table.
  • Attracting more opportunities: When you have a personal brand statement, you can use it to your advantage and leverage additional opportunities. When marketing yourself on social media, like LinkedIn for example, add your personal brand statement to your bio so the opportunities come to you.
  • Increased control of your personal brand image: Crafting your unique personal brand statement can also give you better control of your personal brand image and how others perceive you.
  • Greater perceived value: Connecting with your audience on an emotional level is key, and a personal brand statement can help you do just that. It can also increase your credibility so others view you as a leader in your industry.

To brainstorm your skills and unique abilities, check out Cloudinary’s personal brand statement downloadable template. This template will help you write a statement that will make you stand out.

Focus on How You Present Yourself

Visibility won’t happen if you’re not confident about yourself and what you can bring to the table. A 2020 indeed.com survey showed that 97% of employees agree that confidence is a crucial contributor when securing a promotion, while 94% believe it’s a pivotal factor to career growth as a whole.

How you talk, dress, and present yourself to others says a lot about your professional image. Pay attention to your behavior even when no one is looking or listening. Senior managers are not only confident and bold—they’re also ideally considerate, empathetic, and kind. Adopting and practicing these traits can go a long way in enhancing your image. Before you know it, confidence, kindness, and empathy are already a part of your personality.

Step 2: Build Your Network

Picture this: When you’re already one of the senior managers, you’ll be rubbing elbows with other executives of the same level and even those from higher positions. Socializing is essential if you want to build strong relationships with your peers. In the corporate world, people call it ‘networking.’

Did you know that your network can change your career trajectory in more ways than one? Knowing the right people can significantly extend your network, especially if you’re ambitious enough to hope for a senior management role. The goal is to meet new people who can add value to your career growth and vice versa.

Look For A Role Model

There are more than enough leaders in your company you can look up to if you’re looking for a role model. You want to find out how their experience was and what efforts they had to exert to be chosen for their desired role. This is also the perfect opportunity to ask if they can give you a chance to collaborate on some projects to help you gain experience.

Meet People Outside Your Industry

Networking also applies to people outside your industry. You’ll never know when an opportunity could arise where you can expand your connections and work with colleagues from different fields. Don’t hesitate to widen your circle and add them to your social network profiles, particularly LinkedIn.

Building rapport doesn’t only apply to colleagues from upper management. Take the time to get to know your team and identify how you can support them in different ways. Doing so helps present you as an individual who can lead and isn’t hesitant to take charge. 

Step 3: Become A Mentor

Being a senior manager means you’re capable of taking different teams under your wing. This also equates to you being their mentor, which is a vital skill for any effective manager. People in your office must know they can turn to you when they need help. See every mentoring moment as a chance to showcase your leadership capabilities. 

Apply what you have learned from your role model. No one knows better than an individual who has walked a similar path, and who better to take on that role than a senior manager you look up to the most? Make a list of desirable traits you find in them that you’d like to emulate as a mentor yourself. Learn from their experience and apply what you have learned so you can be the best mentor your team deserves.

Wondering how to become a good mentor?

Be A Good Communicator

Mentoring at the workplace aims to help your team and colleagues have a clearer career path. The first step in doing so is to be a good communicator who knows how to listen. Your mentees should feel no hesitation when asking a question or consulting with you about a business matter. 

Effective communication has a significant impact on productivity in the workplace. In a recent survey accomplished by Expert Market, it was revealed by the employees who participated that they are more likely to feel empowered to produce their best work if they think their voice is heard in the workplace.

Be Constructive When Delivering Criticism

Research by Harvard Business Review found that 72% of respondents (all of whom are employees) thought corrective feedback can significantly help improve their performance at work.

As a mentor, one of the skills you need to master is learning to be constructive when giving feedback or criticism. There’s a thin line between empowering your team and breaking their confidence.

One best way to provide criticism is by sharing your own experience, mainly a mistake you’ve committed in the past and how you managed to overcome it. Highlight what you did to correct the error and how you learned from the experience so you won’t make the same mistake again.

Step 4: Become A Risk-Taker

You can’t let your fear of failure stop you from getting the position you deserve and worked so hard to achieve. In business, risk takers are often awarded better opportunities because they were able to showcase their passion for discovering what awaits at the other end of the rainbow. If you think you can do the role, take the risk and apply for it.

There’s no shortcut to success and no way to land a senior management role without taking risks. However, you should know which risks are worth it in the end. In other words, being a risk-taker doesn’t mean you have to be reckless. 

How else can you show you are a risk-taker other than boldly applying for the promotion? Suggest projects that can help the business grow. Don’t be afraid to be rejected. Work on a business pitch or a proposal that can demonstrate the feasibility of your project. Take control, and take the risk.

Step 5: Invest in Your Leadership Skills

You may be an effective team player or a good junior-level manager—but remember that none of the skills you’ve learned from your previous positions will most likely serve you well once you become a senior manager. That means you’ll start from scratch and have to build your leadership skills to deserve a senior management role.

Aside from learning from your role model, you can think of different ways to develop your leadership skills. Remember that transitioning from a lower position to a senior management role is a huge step, and you’ll need to be adept at various skills. How you navigate such responsibilities will ultimately decide your future in the company, whether conflict resolution, coaching, delegating, or performance monitoring.

Leadership takes time and practice. Learning has no bounds, and like anyone trying to master their craft, you need to invest if you want to land the role of your dreams. You can take short leadership courses to develop your business acumen. Getting a doctorate in business management or administration may also be a sound move if you want to become more proficient in market changes and industry trends.


Preparing for a senior management role requires effort, time, and skills. Still, no matter how arduous the process may be, it’s worth every investment once you’ve landed the position you’re eyeing. 

Yes, being a junior manager is already an accomplishment on its own, but why settle when you can be more ambitious? If you think you’re ready to take on more responsibilities, consider the steps above to help you get the promotion you deserve.

I'm Allison Dunn,

Your Business Executive Coach

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