Help to Grow: Management Course | Kingston University

Growing into a Senior Manager

Overcoming obstacles of mid-management stagnancy
By Maliha Haider
June 27, 2024

Advancing from mid-level to senior management and leadership can be challenging, even for talented and ambitious professionals. External factors like limited organisational needs, budget constraints, or long-standing incumbents in desired positions can slow progress and this applies to all industries from the automotive industry to health. These challenges were recently discussed in the Harvard Business Review Podcast, Women at work, hosted by Amy Bernstein.

The insightful conversation explored ways to overcome mid-career stagnation, especially for women. Despite some factors beyond your control such as limited higher-level positions available, being seen as the person you were when you started, not who you’ve become, and lack of opportunities to gain the required experience for higher roles, there are still some aspects you have full control over as rightly pointed out by Lauren Reyes and Megan Bock.

Some of the takeaways from the podcast are,

  1. To move up, it’s important to:
    • Clearly articulate your desire for advancement to leadership.
    • Make a business case for your promotion or a new senior role.
    • Build relationships and visibility with influential people inside and outside your organisation.
  2. Be willing to take calculated risks:
    • Apply for roles you may not feel 100% qualified for
    • Consider moving to a new organisation that sees your potential.
    • Relocate if necessary for the right opportunity.
  3. Strategies for advancement include:
    • Hiring an executive coach.
    • Completing leadership development programmes such as Help to Grow Management at Kingston University.
    • Proposing new roles or projects that showcase senior leadership skills.
    • Building a network across your industry.
  4. To change perceptions:
    • Take on high-visibility projects outside your usual role.
    • Identify and solve organisational problems proactively.
    • Build relationships with leaders outside your direct chain of command.
    • Showcase your expertise through speaking, writing, or social media.
  5. Be strategic about career moves:
    • Create a long-term career map to guide decisions.
    • Ensure each move aligns with your ultimate goals.
    • Consider both short-term opportunities and long-term fit.

Moving up requires leaving you comfort zone but untapped opportunities both internal and external may value your potential more than what you are receiving now. By following these strategies and being willing to take smart risks, middle managers can position themselves for advancement into senior leadership roles.