Think Like A Boss: Eight Ways To Prove You’re Management Material

Man leading a business meeting in a modern office
If you have your eyes on a management position, the time to prepare is now. Hone your skills, earn the necessary credentials and polish your professional image to ensure a successful climb to the top. Many contract employees want employers that understand their career goals, whether it be advancement in their same position, or the added responsibility of managing other employees. Not sure what it will take? Keep reading to obtain expert advice on how to prove that you’re management material.

1. Go above and beyond
Being good at your job is a great first step and will ensure that you’ll keep that current position, but it may not be enough to earn a promotion.

“Promotion is about pushing the limits of your current position. It's about showing that you have outgrown your current responsibilities, and that you're ready to take on new ones,” says the team at Mind Tools. To show you’ve got what it takes, volunteer to sit on committees at work, and take on added responsibilities when the boss is out, or when co-workers are overwhelmed.

2. Find a mentor
Look around your workplace and identify someone whom you admire and respect, then ask them to serve as your mentor. Mentorship is an essential component to staying ahead of the curve when aspiring to be a manager.

“It is extraordinarily rare for an executive to rise to the top of any organization or for any entrepreneur to be wildly successful without many mentors,” says Chris Haroun, founder of, in an article for Inc.

Incidentally, don’t forget to give back! Once you’re a manager, make sure you become a valuable mentor to someone else.

3. Don’t be part of the problem
You’ve heard it before, but it bears repeating. It’s all too tempting to join a chorus of naysayers at work, or even to stir the pot when others are complaining or radiating negative energy. When problems arise, as they undoubtedly will, don’t complain, and don’t stay silent. Instead approach your boss with thoughtful solutions and show you’re a leader and an agent of change.

4. Don’t forget the soft skills
It goes without saying that having strong technical skills are essential for those wanting to advance their careers. But don’t underestimate the importance of “soft” or “people” skills.

“Knowing how to communicate sensitive information; understanding how to manage up and manage down; learning how to motivate the individuals around you – these are the soft skills required to turn a great worker into a great leader, and it’s never too early for young professionals to start looking ahead,” says John Ambrose, senior vice president of strategy and corporate development at Skillsoft, writing for Fortune.

5. Be up on the trends in your field
Let it be known that you’re genuinely interested in learning all you can about the work of the company, as well as the industry in which you work. Read and share relevant books and articles, post regularly on LinkedIn, and take advantage of opportunities for professional development such as classes, industry networking events and conferences.

6. Act like you’re already a manager
No, don’t start bossing around your coworkers. But do take on extra responsibilities, particularly the chores your boss doesn’t relish. Not only will this endear you to your boss, it will provide an opportunity for you to learn new skills and show that you have what it takes.

7. Be an innovator
Come up with ideas that can make the workplace function better and propose them. If you get approval from your boss or other managers, volunteer to implement your innovation and build on its success. Provide consistent updates and if possible, measurable results that support all of your hard work.

8. Don’t forgot to ask
Tell your manager about your managerial aspirations. Then ask him or her what you need to do to show you’re ready for a promotion. Check in on a regular basis to see if you’re making the grade and ask for feedback on how you can continue to learn and improve. Real-time performance feedback will provide you opportunity to modify your working style, setting you up to succeed.

What are you doing to move your career forward? Share your insights on Facebook and Twitter. Job-hunting? Visit our job board.