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  1. Blog
  2. Advancement
  3. December 2, 2022

‘I Got Promoted. Now What?’ Sage Advice from Career Coaches & Managers Who’ve Been There

“What am I ultimately afraid of?”

Woman who's recently been promoted deciding what to do next
Photo courtesy of Christina @

You’ve finally secured a promotion—a feat that likely required countless hours of paying your dues, venturing outside of your comfort zone, networking, and strategically positioning your raised hand so higher-ups take notice. 

For the next few days and weeks to come, as you settle into the position you so rightfully earned, you’ll continue to navigate a gamut of emotions: relief, excitement, nervousness, fear, determination. A side effect of knowing that the next steps you take will be critical to demonstrating your place among your team and senior leadership.

As you’re preparing to make that first move to establish your footing, there may be one nagging question that keeps thrusting itself into the forefront of your mind: “Where should I start?”

Fortunately, there are a few guiding best practices that can help you find your way.

Career coaches and managers share: 5 crucial tips to finding success after a promotion 

1. Clarify your “why”

There’s a powerful African proverb that says: “when the root is deep, there’s no reason to fear the wind.” 

In the first months of a new position, you may face uncertainty, frustration, or information overload—but as long as you’re well-grounded in your “why,” none of the obstacles you face will stop you from moving forward.

“Transitioning into a leadership role for the first time can be one of the most rewarding opportunities in your career—as well as one of the most stressful ones,” says Richara Warren, leadership confidence coach and senior corporate leader. “But as long as you stay aligned with the true reason you’re pursuing the next level of your career, any unexpected moments during the transition will not throw you off.”

Challenge yourself to write down what you want to accomplish in the long term to affirm that this next step is an important milestone for reaching your intended goal. People who write out their desires are 42 percent more likely to achieve them. 

Anna Lakomy, career coach and former market research executive, recommends answering these three key questions to gain clarity about what you’re truly aiming to achieve in your new role: 

  • How will this position lead to my next opportunity? 

  • How does this opportunity help me to continue to build on my personal brand?

  • What specific things do I want to be known for in my industry?

2. Create your game plan

You may not be the newest face in the building (or in the Zoom call), but your promotion is essentially a reintroduction to your company. With that comes undeniable pressure to jump right in, possibly overlooking critical learning curves in order to make a positive impression on your team and senior leaders—especially if you’re new to management.

Breathe, and take this in: It’s okay to take a step back and process new information.

Erica Kim, Future of Work learning and inclusivity advisor and recently promoted director of strategy, believes the first 90 days in a new position should be looked at as a “preparation stage” that one should use to spend time absorbing information like a sponge from across their organization and network to gain necessary perspective. 

“Management is widely different than being an individual contributor. You need to literally begin to rewire the way that you work,” Kim says. To acquire the tools it will take to evolve your skill sets and working style, you’ll need to learn from peers and seasoned leaders.

“The theme of your first 30 days should be 360 listening,” says Lauren Morrison, personal and business performance coach, and former corporate director. “Meet with each person on your team, your peers, and your boss to understand what’s important to them. Learn their challenges, what they would like to see from your role, and how they want to be communicated with moving forward.”

In addition to connecting with your team and revisiting your understanding of the expectations people have for your role, Warren suggests immediately putting these five steps into practice to lay the groundwork for a successful transition:

  • Reflect and celebrate the accomplishment you’ve just made.

  • Create boundaries early on and be vocal about what they are.

  • Start a wins file to keep track of your early successes. 

  • Develop a “who’s who” document that includes your first-line team.

  • Find and secure a mentor, mentee, sponsor, advocate, and ally. 

3. Quiet your voice of doubt 

A staggering 85 percent of women across corporate America have at some point questioned whether they’ve deserved an opportunity for advancement—so if the dreaded imposter syndrome has managed to snatch you into its clutches, you’re not alone. 

The most powerful thing you can do to build up and protect yourself will be to give yourself the grace of not being your own debilitating critic. 

“Spoiler alert: You will never feel 100 percent ready,” says Lauren Beane, TEDx speaker and recently promoted to chief of staff at CX Lifecycle Journeys at Cisco. “As women, we often will not pursue an opportunity unless we feel we have 100 percent of the answers. We won’t raise our hands in meetings. We won’t advocate for top leadership positions because we feel like we should be grateful for what we’re making now. It can be easy once we've been promoted to feel like we don't deserve it, or that we're fooling someone.” 

Moreover, women are less inclined to self-promote and highlight their skills than their male counterparts, even if they do feel confident enough in their abilities. 

“People who identify as women are naturally harder on themselves because of how we’ve been socialized. Society as a whole is hard on people who identify as women,” says Kim. “But remember, there’s strength and power in people who succeed in patriarchal, white supremacist, and heteronormative systems that aren’t built for them. If you manage to get promoted as a woman, or as a woman of color, you are naturally going to have tremendous skill, knowledge, and strength that you should have confidence in.”

If you find yourself hitting a wall, struggling to build up your confidence, or fighting to ease your anxiety, Morrison suggests asking yourself “what am I ultimately afraid of?”. Then, use these questions to dive deeper and create steps to mitigate that outcome:

  • Am I afraid to look like you don’t know anything in the meetings If so, how can I better prepare?

  • Am I afraid that people won’t take me seriously? If so, what can I do to form relationships with them?

Am I afraid that I won’t be able to provide value? If so, what support might I need in order to be successful? 

4. Read… a lot 

Ongoing success in your role will require you to avidly collect information from various resources across your industry.

Most high achievers and great leaders are professed “life-long learners” who attribute part of their success to new ideas and nuggets of knowledge about leadership, working styles, professional development, and community that they’ve been able to find in books, podcasts, courses, and conversations. 

“It’s always helpful to see more than one point of view,” says Kim, who prepared for her first management role by uncovering practical ways to successfully structure a team and lead with empathy using guides The Makings of a Manager and The Wake Up. “Leadership isn’t just about learning to run effective meetings. If you’re a manager and a leader who cares a lot about DEI [diversity, equity, and inclusion], justice, and collective liberation—which you should—educate yourself on how to lead in a way that models your values in the workplace.”

Your knowledge hub can also help you to face difficulties and find your way back to more stability, positivity, and rational thinking. 

Expect to Win is what got me out of my career purgatory where I was stuck in a role for years without advancement,” says Lakomy.

“As a leader, I’ve learned that perfectionism can cause me to hesitate to venture outside of my comfort zone, but The Confidence Code taught me that the #1 thing that inhibits confidence—and success—is perfectionism,” says Beane.

As you’re beefing up your reading list, take note of a few additional gems that Morrison suggests adding to your shelf to help shape your working style and mindset:

Read more: The Best of the Best: 16 Management Books for Every Kind of Leader

5. Elevate your aim

After you’ve managed to get settled in, it’ll be easy to fall into routines that ultimately serve the day-to-day functions of your role but neglect your longer-term aspirations. The best way to avoid becoming entrapped in a single moment of your career is to promptly aim higher. 

“Once you receive a promotion, first treat yourself to a happy dance—you deserve it!” says Beane. “But, don’t let yourself get too comfortable in that role. Begin talking to leaders and learn what you need to do to get yourself to that next level.”

“I’ve seen so many women become too relaxed once they’ve received the promotion they were aiming for and in turn lose their oomph, suffer burnout, or just get stuck because they’ve allowed themselves to get to a place where they believe their work speaks for them,” says Warren. 

When you’ve reached steady ground and have a firm grasp on managing your responsibilities, refocus some of your attention back to your “why” and determine what additional steps you need to take to get to the next stage of your career.

One of those steps could be developing a strategy to further stand out to senior leadership.

“Similar to brands, a key skill for women to continue to stand out and advance their careers is learning how to market themselves. Because it’s not just what you do, but who sees it and how they perceive it,” says Lakomy.

Morrison further cautions that focusing solely on meeting your own objectives isn’t going to cut it if you want to position yourself for the next opportunity. “Find out what’s on your boss’s scorecard. What are they being measured on? Take on stretch assignments that are in line with moving the needle for the level above yours to prove your ability to be strategic and expose yourself to higher-level stakeholders. Remember, people seldom promote based on whether they think someone can do the job. They promote because that person has been doing the job already,” she says.

Read more: How to Make the Business Case for the Work You Do

By contrast, if you know that your end goal is going to require that you eventually leave your current company, another step could be revisiting your written roadmap to make sure it aligns with personal milestones versus job functions. This is an aspect of advancement that Kim believes doesn’t get talked about enough, particularly in discussions about women in leadership. 

“Women are conditioned and told that they are a caretaker. Not just to families, but to your work team,” she says. “Keep in mind that this is just one step in a series of steps that you will take. It’s not the only step. If you’re ambitious about your job, you should be equally if not more ambitious about your personal career path.”

Whatever your circumstances may be, Warren recommends following three sound practices to set yourself up to remain focused on forward movement, and attain greater opportunities:

  • Never stop learning and growing by way of self-development.

  • Take control of your career journey and never allow others to dictate it for you.

  • Continue to use your voice to stand out—and don’t forget to be a voice for those who cannot be in the rooms you’re in. 

Read more: Our Comprehensive Guide to Finding a Career You Love

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