You have been employed for some time now and your boss thinks your job is good? You are punctual, reliable and are often praised as a “good” or “very good” employee? But you have not been promoted for years and others are always preferred?

The requirements for employees and managers differ significantly. A good employee is by no means a good manager. So if you want to be promoted, you must first make an advance payment: From tomorrow onwards, stop acting like an employee but be a manager. So move away from the mindset of the employee!

Reading tip: Become a manager

The mindset of employees

I am now involved in the selection and coaching of managers and pay close attention to the manager’s mindset. As a manager you are not hired directly. The majority have worked as employees in day-to-day business over the past few years.

The consequence is that due to the small scope, some behaviors, i.e. an employee mindset, have established themselves. An employee mindset is characterized by typical behaviors such as:

  • They are hardworking and doing assigned tasks
  • You have little network in the company
  • They often point out that your manager is responsible for this
  • You work in your clearly defined area of competence
  • They often delve into details
  • You work from nine to five and company events are hardly relevant
  • You only ever solve all problems yourself
  • You work 8 hours a day on assigned tasks

These behaviors may sound almost negative, but they are not. They show the solid and good employees who reliably perform tasks.

Reading tip: Become a senior

The mindset of executives

As already mentioned, the requirements for managers are completely different. You quickly notice that you can no longer do everything alone in leadership and that details also lose their importance. In this way, a manager distinguishes itself significantly from a good employee. The mindset of executives has typical behaviors such as:

  • You accept challenges, even if you are outside of the competence
  • You always think in a solution-oriented manner
  • You distribute tasks so that you have time for leadership again
  • You don’t delve into details but see the big picture
  • You invest a lot of time in your networks with other managers
  • They motivate those around them
  • You are constantly planning how your team can be expanded
  • You act at eye level with appreciation
  • You always stay calm

You cannot usually be promoted by your direct boss

Now there is another difficulty: In most cases, it is not your direct boss who can promote you, but his boss.

Your task is therefore: Try to establish contact with the upper management floors. You can do this by actively addressing them or by having projects with management attention.

Establishing contacts takes time

It is no secret that management in a company is often a separate and self-contained circle despite all the agility. There is a simple rule from the animal kingdom that you should apply in such closed circles:

When you approach a strange cat, it is initially afraid of you. She sees you as a possible threat. So sit on the floor for a while and wait 3-5 minutes. You will notice that the cat slowly gets used to your presence and approaches. This tip is also given in flirt and sales seminars:

Stand at the customer’s table and only speak to them directly after 3-5 minutes

Establish contact with upper management!

So if you are in upper management follow this rule. It is best to do the following:

  • Get in touch with the managers at the Christmas party
  • Try to come to important meetings with the managers
  • Try to meet the managers in places like the coffee kitchen etc.

Important rule to start with: Say as little as possible to show that you are not a threat. Show them with loyal sentences that you can be relied on.

tip : So just keep quiet for 3-5 meetings (a few sentences) and show the people around you that you are not a threat. You will notice that after a while you will start talking to the managers.

If you slowly and naturally become part of upper management in the manner described and someone trusts you, then it is only a matter of time before you get a firm seat there.


A promotion to management depends on different skills than in a specialist career. You have to have strong networks, manage company policy, land good projects, recognize intrigues and forge alliances, and manage and expand your area constantly like an entrepreneur.

You are often praised with the mindset of the employee and you are sometimes the boss’s favorite because you are reliable. That is great and certainly a first-rate condition. However, if you want to move up, that will hardly get you any further, as you do not exist in the eyes of top managers or are just a very good but little known employee.

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I blog about the influence of digitalization on our working world. For this purpose, I provide content from science in a practical way and show helpful tips from my everyday professional life. I am an executive in an SME and I wrote my doctoral thesis at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg at the Chair of IT Management.

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