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#009: How to build your team for promotion

Here’s how to build a team that will help you obtain the promotion you want and take your career to new heights.

Today’s issue takes about 3 minutes to read. Enjoy.

Today, I’m going to share an approach to building a support team when you are going for a promotion at work.

By working with a team, you’ll integrate new perspectives, ways of thinking, and shortcuts that will help you navigate the promotion process more easily, taking (some of!) the stress out of the challenge.

Unfortunately, many people don’t bother to build a team of specialists around them.

People think they’re better off alone

There are reasons for this. People think that because they’ve been invited to go for a promotion that they:

  • Know exactly what is required

  • Are on level footing with the competition

  • Already have the technical skills they need

  • Will risk their chances by helping their competition

By ignoring these assumptions and biases, and by building a group of people to work with through your promotion, you’ll give yourself a better chance than ever before.

Here's how to build your team, role by role.

1. The Competition

This is the most important part of your team, but it is often overlooked.

Find someone who is going for a promotion at the same time as you. Although they might appear to be competition, in large organisations, there is usually space for more than one promotion per team, so this won’t be ‘true’ competition.

Work with your rival to share ideas, approaches, resources and tips.

You’ll both benefit from the experience and it is unlikely that you’ll lose anything.

2. A Mentor

Too many people go wrong and think that the existing mentor they have will be the right person to mentor them through their promotion process.

Your existing career mentor is a great guide for you, but have they been through the same process, at the same organisation, recently?

If they haven’t, you need to find a new, short-term mentor.

They will be able to give you greater specificity as to the process you’re going through, what the promotion panel is looking for, what they would have done differently etc.

This specificity will help you build your case with a more targeted approach.

3. A Sponsor

I’d like to believe that life was totally fair and that we all have equal opportunities.

But I don’t!

Finding a senior sponsor is probably going to be more important than any of the preparation you do on your own.

Firstly, a sponsor can open up opportunities for you in the build-up to your promotion bid that you can’t do for yourself.

They might be able to...

  • Find you a place on a leadership development programme

  • Get you an additional people development role.

  • Unlock a role with a new team

  • Invite you into senior leadership meetings to give you greater exposure

Whatever opportunity they can open up for you, take it!

Secondly, a sponsor will be your champion when it comes to making the big decision.

If your promotion panel has been told by your sponsor, that you’re the future of the firm and they back you completely… The panel will be looking for a reason to promote you.

4. A Coach

The final part of your carefully assembled team should be an independent voice.

A coach will partner with you from start to finish on the journey and help you consider all angles.

They are invested in your success, but they have no pre-loaded opinions or judgements or what it will take to be successful in your company.

They will ask you questions that will help challenge your thinking around:

  • Whether you are investing time in the right areas

  • Your progress against the goals you have set yourself

  • How you are establishing your skills to evidence the qualities you need

And they will be a careful listener through a period in which you will be receiving a lot of advice but need a space to process your thinking and create your own path forward to success.


  1. Team up with your competition

  2. Find a short-term mentor to help guide you

  3. Get sponsorship from a senior leader to unlock opportunities

  4. Work with a professional coach to create your own path to success

Going for promotion can be challenging, but by building the right team around you, you’ll make things so much easier for yourself.

Good luck!


If you enjoyed reading this newsletter, the best compliment you could pay me would be to share it with others using the links below.

Thanks, Jamie

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