How to Break into a Managerial Role – Part 2

Previously, we discussed the first part of this real life situation that Jessica is experiencing.  Today, we will finish this topic on how to break into a managerial role with a follow up discussion I had with Jessica a few weeks later.  Here is her follow up email updating me on her situation and some new challenges she is facing.


Dear Lei,

I’ve talked to my boss and the outcome is not as promising as I had expected. Although I had the impression that he ranked me very high in my managerial potential, he actually did not have any clear plans of making me a manager. Per him, he cannot make me a manager simply because it is my aspiration, “there has to be a business need”.

However, per his vision, I’ve been put in more of a chief of staff, special project based role, rather than being in charge of a certain line of business. I am afraid that such a position does not offer great growth potential.  Needless to say, the meeting was a discouragement. At the end, we agreed to have a similar meeting every 3 months.

Today, he has announced the org change in a staff meeting. He made exactly the same moves that he communicated to me about one month ago in private. I could sense that he was very careful in wording my role, and tried to make it sound important. My feeling, nevertheless, was one of humiliation.

I have to say that my trust in him is shaken, and I am not sure if he truly appreciates my contribution as much as he claims. The path he laid out in front of me is not very motivating.  I’d like to consider a career change, but would like to wait until the bonus time next year to see if anything positive develops.

I’d very much welcome an opportunity to speak to you directly… My burning question is:  How do I make a breakthrough into a managerial role with a diverse background, in or outside my current team?

The longer version of this question is: I’ve been through a lot of different roles in this industry. This recent experience made me suspect that the depth of my knowledge in any particular area may not be enough to bring me to a managerial level. Please advise me on what I should do, and what I need to focus on to methodically achieve this goal.

Many thanks,

Based on this email above and a resume Jessica sent me, we had a 20-min phone discussion about her question.  I hope it can also help you if you find yourself in a similar situation.  Listen to our discussion below:

Best wishes to your career success!

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I am always in your corner.

– Lei

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