Advance Your Career When the Boss Won’t Help

By Harvard Business Review
December 13, 2018

Four ways to assist your trajectory if you’re not fortunate enough to have a “sponsor.”

Sponsors can be invaluable in helping you achieve career goals. In particular, a boss with influence willing to advocate for you can be a direct benefit to your professional growth.

But what if you’re not one of the lucky ones with a powerful and supportive boss? Luckily, you can find other ways to stand out.

Use the following advice to find what you don’t have in your boss:

Create an advocacy team: Consider putting together a team of people who can help you advance your career. Look for people whose careers are further along than yours, and whose style or achievements you admire. Approach a potential advocate by asking for advice; when people provide advice, they become invested.

RELATED: What to Do When Your Boss Won’t Advocate for You

Prioritize visibility: Without your boss putting you in front of stakeholders, you need to find your own platform. Look for cross-functional or internal projects that will involve or be debriefed to stakeholders. If one doesn’t exist, propose your own project.

RELATED: Win Over a Boss Who Doesn’t Seem to Like You

Find the influencers and offer to help: In every organization, there are centers of influence, some of which may not map to positional power. Think, for example, of the CEO’s long-standing assistant. When you determine who the influencers are in your work, make yourself helpful to them; trust in the long-term benefit of the relationship.

RELATED: Didn’t Get the Job? Here’s How to Win When You Lose

Use positive outside pressure: Building your status outside the organization can often gain you visibility inside. Corporate leaders notice who is visible to customers, stakeholders and the broader industry. By leveraging their expertise, skills and interests, professionals at any level can build a solid platform that has a greater reach than their position might indicate.

Copyright 2018 Harvard Business School Publishing Corp. Distributed by The New York Times Syndicate.

Topics: Career Planning

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