Do you have a desire to grow as a leader, but feel stuck in your current role? The road toward leadership can be a little uneven with bumps along the way, but learning how to advocate for yourself will help you stand out, build confidence, and create open doors of opportunity.

Even if you’re an entry level employee with little to no experience, you have the responsibility to set the bar for how you want to be seen. No matter what situations you are faced with at work, remember these truths:

You are responsible for your actions.

You shape your reputation.

You decide what opportunities you want.

You choose what you will and will not do.

You determine your growth cap.

You set the standard.

If you want your professional development to keep thriving, you need to make sure you’re advocating for yourself in a way that helps create the right opportunities.

Here is a list of 7 things you can be doing right now – no matter what level of professional experience you have – that will help set the trajectory for your leadership growth.

  1. Don’t Wait for Permission

As much as we like to think our leaders should know what we want and need, the truth is, nobody can read your mind.

If you are feeling left out, not included, or simply bypassed for opportunities, don’t wait for permission to be invited. The proper etiquette for showing up to the party uninvited doesn’t apply here.

Invite yourself to the conversation instead of waiting to be asked.

Ask to be included in the board meeting, the decision making process, or to take lead in an area you’re hoping to grow in.

The worst thing that could happen is being told no, but even then, you will have shown initiative and communicated that you have a desire for something more – that’s planting a seed in your leader’s mind that will not go unnoticed.

  1. Lead the Conversation

You get to be in charge of the conversation.

Imagine this scenario: you are overwhelmed with a weekly meeting with your boss that always seems to pour on more work than you know what to do with.

But what if you could take charge of these meetings by getting ahead of the conversation?

One way to do this is by creating a brief hit list ahead of time. It should consist of information your boss needs to know in a bullet-point format.

This should include top-level projects or areas your boss will ask about. Be sure to limit this to high-level detail and avoid getting into the weeds.

You also might want to provide a quick update on your team and offer some positive feedback on additional projects or initiatives you’re working on. Lastly, bring up any pending question or sign-off needed from your boss.

Ultimately, your leader wants to be up-to-speed with you and your work and trust that you have things under control. The more you take charge and lead the conversation with your leaders, the better you’ll be positioning yourself now and in the future.

  1. Plan Ahead

No matter how good you think on your feet, an unprepared professional brings everyone else down and communicates that you really don’t care about your job.

Planning ahead means showing up to meetings prepared, researched, and on time. This also means being responsible for the variety of tasks and projects you oversee so that you can give a report at any given moment.

If you struggle with details or task-management, figure out a system that will set you up for success rather than derail you.

Work to your strengths and find solutions to balance your weaknesses.

  1. Learn From Others

No matter how high you climb or how many people you lead, always be a learner. As soon as you think you’ve arrived, you’ve placed a cap on your potential.


Take notice of those in your organization. Who do you admire and why? Why do you gravitate towards one person over another? How does someone earn your trust?

As you start to discover the answers to those questions, notice the characteristics and leadership qualities in those you strive to be like.

It doesn’t always have to be a superior, either. You can learn so much from other colleagues, peers, family, and subordinates.

  1. Communicate Out Loud

Honest communication is always best and helps break down the barriers at work that we sometimes create in our own heads.

We all want to avoid uncomfortable conversations. As women, sometimes we feel insecure about expressing our feelings at work because the culture tells us that our emotions are a weakness.

But here’s the truth. Your emotions matter. It’s important to recognize them and understand what’s driving them. It’s also important to not allow your emotions to lead your decisions and actions.

Pay attention to what aggravates or frustrates you. Are there people or circumstances that get a rise out of you? Spend time reflecting on why you may be feeling a certain way so that you can get to the core issue and unpack it from there.

Then, if needed, communicate your needs out loud. Do you feel a lack of support? Do you need more guidance, training, resources? Do you wish your schedule was different?

Communicate those needs clearly and imagine nothing is off the table. You’d be surprised at what doors will open when you communicate your needs well.

  1. Create Healthy Margin

If your life becomes all about work, you’ll start to rob yourself of healthy relationships, rest, and good self-care.

Care for yourself. Make sure you’re getting enough rest, fuelling your body with balanced nutrition, getting enough exercise, and protecting your mental health. When you create routines that foster healthy margin, you will suddenly become the best version of yourself – even at work.

You’d be amazed at the level of focus and energy you’ll have toward your career when you’re applying habits that promote self-care and healthy work/life balance.

  1. Find Solutions

One of the best ways to be recognized for leadership and advance quickly is to be solution-oriented. If you recognize a problem or an area that needs improvement, take some time to come up with solutions.

Instead of going to your leader with the problem, take them your solution for the problem instead.

Even if your solutions aren’t adapted, don’t be discouraged. Ask questions, accept that you won’t always see what your leaders see, respect their decisions, and learn why and how certain things are the way they are. This will prepare you in coming up with future solutions and help you think more strategically and in the best interest of the company.

There are many more ways to develop as a leader but implementing these behaviors and attitudes today will have a huge impact on the future of your career path and professional advancement.