5 Ways You Can Feel More Empowered to Talk to Your Manager About Becoming a Leader

November 1, 2023
— By
Danielle Livy
woman talking with boss

As women, the journey to leadership is often filled with uncertainty and the desire to progress in our careers. However, approaching the conversation with your manager about becoming a leader or joining the leadership team can be daunting. It's common to feel like you're in an unfamiliar performance or interview scenario, searching for the right script to follow. But it doesn't have to be that way. In this blog post, we'll explore some practical tips for women in marketing on how to have an effective conversation with your manager about your aspirations to become a leader.

1. It's Not a One-Shot Deal

One of the initial fears that might make this conversation intimidating is the belief that you only have one opportunity to secure everything you need to move up the career ladder. This "all or nothing" thinking can create unnecessary pressure. The reality is that career progression is rarely determined by a single conversation. Instead, it's a series of discussions and actions that build your path to leadership.

Think of this initial conversation as a step in the right direction, rather than the be-all and end-all of your journey. If your manager is a reasonable and supportive individual, they'll understand that career growth is a process, not an event. Keep in mind that their role is to support your professional development.

2. Evaluate Your Relationship with Your Boss

Consider the relationship you have with your boss. Imagine if they brought up the conversation right now and asked about your thoughts on your future within the company. If they framed the question in a way that aligns with your existing rapport, how would you respond?

Approaching this conversation as a continuation of the ongoing dialogue you have with your manager can make it feel less daunting. In a healthy working relationship, discussing career aspirations should be a natural part of the conversation.

3. Shift from Feedback to Support

When you engage in this conversation, focus on your development and desire for growth. Position it as a commitment to improving your skills and contributing more to the company. If you approach your manager and express your interest in advancing in a way that aligns with their goals and the company's objectives, you're more likely to receive a positive response.

Consider asking for your manager's support in your development journey rather than seeking feedback. This subtle shift can make them feel like they're a part of your growth and progression, which can be very motivating.

4. Embrace a Growth Mindset

It's essential to approach this conversation with a growth mindset. Embrace the idea that you can continually develop your skills, knowledge, and leadership abilities. Your manager will likely view your desire to advance as a positive sign of commitment and dedication to the organization.

Remember that leadership isn't about having all the answers; it's about the willingness to learn, adapt, and lead a team effectively. By demonstrating your dedication to growth and development, you're showing that you have the potential to become a valuable leader.

5. Prepare and Plan

Before initiating the conversation, take the time to prepare and plan. Reflect on your career goals, your strengths, and the areas you'd like to develop. Consider how your aspirations align with the company's vision and objectives.

Create a rough outline of what you'd like to discuss in the conversation. Be clear about your career goals and what you believe you can contribute to the leadership team. Remember that you're not just asking for a promotion; you're proposing a partnership that benefits both you and the company. Here’s an example: 

  • Why you scheduled the discussion
  • Specific achievements you’d like to highlight 
  • Data points of those achievements
  • Timeline you hope to achieve this next step
  • Time for feedback from manager 
  • Express gratitude to them and the company 

Having a conversation with your manager about your aspirations to become a leader doesn't have to be intimidating. Remember that career progression is a journey, and this conversation is just one step along the way. Approach it as an opportunity to discuss your commitment to growth and development, and as a chance to align your goals with those of your organization. By framing it as a collaborative partnership, you're more likely to receive the support and guidance you need to make your journey to leadership a reality.