10 Steps To Take if You Want Your Boss’s Job

Find out how to be the best candidate for a top-level position.

A symbolic depiction of a young businesswoman ascending the corporate hierarchy,, moving from manager to director, and ultimately reaching the position of CEO.
Updated May 28, 2024
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Climbing the corporate ladder and earning a better role at your company is an ambition baked into the lives of many professionals.

If you have your sights set on your boss's position or another top-level spot in your company, there are strategic steps you can take to increase your chances of success.

Positioning yourself as the best candidate requires careful planning and execution. Here are 10 moves that can help you move beyond living paycheck to paycheck and into a more lucrative role at work.

Don't waste time

Krakenimages.com/Adobe Two middle-aged business workers working together at the office, with happy and confident expressions on their faces.

When you know your boss is on the way out — maybe they got picked for a new role or took a position elsewhere — it's time to plan. And we don't mean in a cartoon villain way.

Show that you're sorry to see your boss go, but make sure your superiors know you have ambitions. Tell them you are interested and arrange a conversation, at their convenience, to make your case for why the job should be yours.

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Understand the role

puhhha/Adobe  People intently listening and jotting down notes during a business training session held in an office.

Knowledge is power. You must understand the nature of the positions above you to get ahead. Fortunately, good supervisors want to invest in upcoming leaders.

Express your ambition to advance and take advantage of chances to observe the tasks, meetings, and decision-making processes of higher-level roles. It will provide insights into the inner workings of the positions you're angling for.

Leverage relationships

Tamani Chithambo/peopleimages.com/Adobe A group of people from diverse backgrounds, meeting and sharing their thoughts on new innovations during a business conference held in an office.

It's a good idea to expand your network — reach across the aisle, so to speak. You can increase your influence in the company by connecting and collaborating with key players outside your immediate team.

Great leaders proactively put themselves in positions where they're more likely to be asked for their expertise. Working collaboratively and cross-functionally boosts your visibility and reputation. 

By building relationships and actively engaging with others, your name will be mentioned for the right reasons.

Focus on team triumphs

ChayTee/Adobe Asian woman shakes hands with a young, bearded, hipster Caucasian man to welcome him as a new employee while the team applauds in support,

It may sound counterintuitive, but one of the best ways to show company leadership that you are the right person to take on a bigger role is to not focus on yourself. Focus on team victories instead.

The ambitious voice in your head may indeed say it is all about you and your success, but executives value those who foster collaboration and support colleagues. They understand that the true potential for success lies in a cohesive and effective team.

Someone who invests their time and expertise to elevate and empower others is extremely valuable.

Show commitment to growth

micromonkey/Adobe A mature male student studying with books in a library, while other students in the background engage in group study and discussion.

Dedicating time outside work to learn new skills that will help your career is always a good idea. You can also use that growth to show your commitment to the company’s success.

Take relevant courses or read about areas you want to master. Ask your superiors for suggestions. Show that you're interested in taking on special projects that align with the company's goals and provide professional growth opportunities.

Pro tip: If money is an issue, consider looking for a part-time job or starting a side hustle that can help you earn extra cash while you wait to advance in your primary career.

Be reliable

littlewolf1989/Adobe A construction worker and a structural engineer are giving a high five to each other to celebrate the successful completion of a building project.

There are few things worse than thinking you can rely on someone and then being totally let down. Being considered unreliable is a black mark that's hard to shake, and it can derail any promotion plans you have.

Company leaders want people with a proven track record of delivering high-quality work and achieving goals. Establishing a reputation as someone who consistently produces stellar results is essential if you have your eyes on a corner office.

You may start slow, but those who excel while handling small projects are more likely to be entrusted with larger projects in the future.

Communicate like a boss

vectorfusionart/Adobe A male employee wearing a checkered shirt is explaining statistical data related to the business during a presentation at office.

Communication skills are essential in every aspect of business, especially when it comes to management. Being an effective communicator means being thoughtful.

Understand your audience and plan ahead, whether presenting, collaborating, or just chatting. Adaptability is key — each person and situation demands different approaches.

Project confidence in presentations and humility with peers. Support your points with data when engaging your boss. Always follow up so that everyone is on the same page.

Show that you have fresh ideas

Gorodenkoff/Adobe Male and female engineers discuss Artificial intelligence software on laptop and chat casually in a high-tech research office.

There are times in a company when the old ways no longer work and new solutions are needed. Being a problem solver shows you're someone with the answers.

Forward-thinking companies welcome new ideas if they are presented with humility and respect. When you offer innovative solutions, you demonstrate your value and potential contribution.

People who tactfully challenge the status quo and communicate alternative possibilities get noticed.

Think strategically

ImageFlow/Adobe a young businesswoman deep in thought as she considers a business optimization scheme with a black chalkboard in the background.

Strategic thinking is crucial for moving into roles with more responsibility.

Effective leaders balance working on business strategy and managing everyday operations. They go beyond their immediate tasks and evaluate opportunities that align with larger goals.

This requires a top-down, big-picture perspective. Strategic thinking can be developed through practice, like building muscle through exercise. The more you engage in strategic thinking, the more proficient you become.

Take the initiative

Nicholas Felix/peopleimages.com/Adobe A young male doctor is raising his hand during a hospital boardroom meeting and asking questions in an effort to understand the problem better.

Don't hesitate to ask for opportunities that allow you to showcase your skills and talents. Clearly communicate your value and express what you aim to gain from the opportunity.

By actively raising your hand and showing initiative, you position yourself for professional growth and advancement within the organization.

Bottom line

Nicholas Felix/peopleimages.com/Adobe A female website designer in a wheelchair is all smiles while using technology to analyze web and software.

You won't be handed the keys to the kingdom overnight. Taking over as the new boss requires patience, persistence, and planning.

On the plus side, starting from inside the company has serious advantages. Many organizations are more likely to promote people internally to management than hire someone new.

Focusing on these key areas will keep you moving in the right direction while preparing for future opportunities. They can advance your career toward roles with more responsibility and pay that can help you get ahead financially.

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Author Details

Will Vitka

Will Vitka is a D.C. area reporter and writer. He previously worked for WTOP, The New York Post, Stuff Magazine, and CBS News.