Many of us would damn near kill to get a promotion. Whether for its flashy perks, the public kudos or simply to face a new and exciting challenge. But what got you *here*, won’t get you *there*. Use these psychological insights to progress your career with a serious upper hand. Here we explore everything from stereotypes and strengths to crucial attributes and full-blown misconceptions.

Rumour has it… you want to know exactly how to get a promotion.

So, you’re probably wondering: beyond technical skill…

“Do clear steps to getting promoted actually exist?”

According to psychology – absolutely.

But before you go swiping your hands across the desk, plonking your feet on top and lighting up a cigar (whisky in hand) – hold your horses.

The steps to getting promoted aren’t necessarily what you think.

Here’s what you’ll learn to help you get that promotion:

  1. The flawed leadership archetype
  2. What you don’t need to get promoted
  3. Gender and leadership in organisations
  4. Discover: how is your personality holding back your promotion potential?
  5. Top attributes of people who get promoted at work
  6. Promotion-winning personality insights
  7. Your sensitive side: the secret to getting promoted
  8. The exact next steps to getting your promotion

1. The flawed leadership archetype

You only need to watch Robocop, Star Wars or one episode of The Apprentice to see that the stereotypical leader archetype is flawed. And if you’ve ever worked under a stern, sarcastic or unpredictable boss (who occasionally points across the room and shouts ‘fire him!’), you’ll know how terrible of a leader this truly creates.

Think about it. Charming, charismatic, even narcissistic bosses so frequently make the big screen. But let’s clear something up. As Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic so eloquently says: these aren’t attributes of an effective leader. They’re attributes of a newsworthy one. Even a comedic leader. Why? Spoiler alert: effective leaders are, for the most part, quite boring. So, if you’re set on mastering how to get a promotion, we need to clear a few things up.

Thinker Tip: good leaders don’t live by the adage ‘there are no friends in business’. Great leaders don’t ‘fake it ‘til [they] make it’, and they certainly don’t breathe down your neck (looking at you, Darth Vader).

Since the known leadership archetype is flawed, here’s the promotion-ready one.

Leadership: the common (and mistaken) perception versus the scientific view of leadership

Just like this flawed leadership archetype, there are a few misconceptions about climbing the corporate ladder and getting that promotion. Contrary to popular belief, here’s what you don’t need to get there.

Image source: Why Do So Many Incompetent Men Become Leaders (And How To Fix It)

2. To get promoted, you don’t necessarily need:

✖️ More confidence

Ever been told that confidence is the key to getting promoted? Think again. When confidence and competence don’t align, trouble’s often right behind. Why? Because confidence doesn’t equal more skill, knowledge or effectiveness. AKA it doesn’t make you better at your job.

✖️ To ask for a promotion

Sure, asking for a promotion can be effective. But if your current performance doesn’t reflect that of a leader, this may result in a lot of confusion (and ‘no’s).

✖️ A ‘no friends in business’ attitude

Getting a promotion is a helluva lot easier when people actually like you. #saidit

✖️ To fake it ‘til you make it

Our beliefs about ourselves are notoriously inaccurate. In fact, studies show that your coworkers are better at judging how your personality affects your job performance than you are. Hate to break it to you, but facades are seen through more easily than a bad poker face. And wouldn’t you rather feel prepared and suited to a role than like a fraud?

Now we’ve got those common myths out of the way, #phew… let’s take a closer look at the role that gender plays in leadership positions.

3. Gender and leadership in organisations

While statistically, women score higher than men on the vast majority of leadership competencies, this doesn’t mean that men can’t harness the attributes of an effective leader.

Crack open a cold one and watch the insightful Ted Talk by Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic (below) to learn more about effective leadership skills to help you get that promotion.

4. Discover: Where’s your personality holding back your promotion potential?

Use this short quiz to uncover how getting a promotion at work could be hindered by your personality. With this information, we’ll explore how to improve your chances of getting promoted in the future.

For each question, make note of which answer reflects your current attitude and approach to work.

1. You hand in a piece of work. You expect:

A. 100%! But if not? It’s okay – what does the boss know, anyway?

B. Pure perfection. You spent 3 x the allocated time on it!

C. Some feedback – there’s always room for improvement (you know your team liked it, though!)

2. You enter the office a few minutes early. You:

A. Admire your trophies

B. Head straight to the desk – more time to work!

C. Turn up early? Yeah, right! Chat with the team outside for a bit

3. Teamwork makes the:

A. Quality lower. Give me a break – I’ll do it myself!

B. Task take too looooong

C. Dream work (in all honesty, it’s best when others do the work hahaha)

Your personality attribute holding back your promotion is:

Mostly As: Ego

 You’re conscientious, a self-starter and here to get the job done. These are all excellent qualities to have as a worker. But if it’s a promotion you’re after, don’t forget that connections, respect and breaking down your ego to let others in are incredibly important factors to help you get there.

Mostly Bs: Work Ethic

 This might sound crazy, but you’re working too hard! Remember, while technical skill is important, building rapport with your team will ultimately help to motivate, build trust and grow a high-performing culture that people can’t get enough of (including those in charge of promoting you).

Mostly Cs: Motivation

 Okay, so you’re great mates with the office crew. You’re open to feedback and extremely adaptable. These will serve you well in the workplace and life – go you! But, question: are you putting in enough work to show that you’re reliable, committed and ready to lead? When you’re looking at how to get that promotion, it’s crucial to consider a 360° view.

Climb the corporate ladder strategically

Now that we’re clear on key areas to be conscious of when aiming to get promoted – it’s time to uncover the attributes to strive towards. Plus examples (maaan, I’m nice!).

5. Top attributes of people who get promoted at work

Respected, effective and damn good leaders all share a similar combination of the following important attributes:


  • Remember what I was saying before about confidence and competence being totally different? Well, in order to progress, your technical skills must be up to speed.

Example: Completing training and professional development ahead of due dates


  • How does having a modest view of yourself help your chances of being promoted? By communicating your focus on others over yourself, you’re showing upper management that ego won’t get in the way of your work, skills and commitment to getting the job done. This can also help to empower other employees.

Example: Shaking hands with an award winner when you’re named runner-up


  • Moral principles get you far in the world of promotions. How do you use integrity to your advantage? By displaying honesty, dependability and a reputation for holding yourself accountable.

Example: Owning up to a mistake you’ve made, even if your boss wouldn’t have found out if you hadn’t made it known

Interpersonal skills

  • Showcasing your mastery of self-control, flexibility and respectful communication demonstrates your abilities to drive productivity through emotional intelligence (EI). Through an empathetic, self-aware and emotionally resilient approach, you’ll also build stronger relationships with team members and clients alike. #winwin

Example: Mentor or coach a new team member in situations where they are overwhelmed, confused or stressed


  • While it’s easy to think that getting that promotion relies on your performance alone, don’t overlook the power of building up others. By taking on a role model position (and walking the talk), recognising others’ accomplishments and nurturing client potential, your abilities skyrocket in the eyes of others.

Example: Create communal goals within your team (these can be work-related, like completing a task by lunchtime, or outside of work, like a fitness challenge) or celebrate a teammate’s wins with a small gift (such as shouting them a coffee)

Hold down the above image to save, apply to your phone background as a reminder of promotion pointers anywhere you are.

6. Promotion-winning personality insights

As you’ve no doubt noticed by now, to get a promotion, you’ll need much more than technical excellence. So: you saw it coming, I saw it coming… we all saw it coming. When we explore how to get a promotion using psychology, we can’t progress without discussing personality (yes, the juicy stuff).

The Hogan Assessments

I’d like to introduce you to a little ditty called The Hogan Assessments. As a business psychologist (fancy, I know), this is an in-depth, professional personality tool I implement in all coaching sessions with people looking for a promotion, just like you.

Because just like job roles, office cultures and fried chicken – no two leaders are created *exactly* the same. So uncovering your leadership style is crucial to intentionally moving up the ladder using your unique strengths. Take a peek at this summary of what we delve into.

Bright side | Day-to-day behaviours

Where do your everyday strengths lie? Perhaps you rate highly on adjustment, meaning you’re steady under pressure. Or does being inquisitive come easily to you? Maybe you’re a hands-on learner, or more insightful. Unlocking these attributes creates more clarity in your everyday leadership behaviours (and how to get on the radar for a promotion because of them).

Dark side | Reactive, stress responses

We all react to stress, pressure and overwhelm differently. Whether you’re a risk-taker, offer unusual ideas, are eager to please superiors, or are more likely to be unadventurous and super cautious… Here we uncover your default button to highly stressful situations, so you can avoid reacting negatively, losing your crap or wildly effing up by doing something you’re not proud of (may include making Sandra cry).

Your dark side uncovers what you want to use less, so you can make more room to use your bright side more. In Harvard Business Review’s article, Could Your Personality Derail Your Career?, we see that dark side attributes can be broken into distancing, seductive and ingratiating (serving) clusters. When experienced by an outsider, these can come across as passive-aggressive, overestimating or arrogant and conflict-averse. Basically, all the things you don’t want to be!

I advise that you pay close attention to the following personality attributes (in excess) when looking to climb the corporate ladder. Though exactly which ones match your personality are uncovered in 1:1 leadership coaching sessions. More specifically, we’ll uncover which one of these leadership traps you’re most likely to fall into based on your personality and leadership archetype. Is your risk of losing your cool when you’re under pressure closer to the surface than you think?

I advise that you pay close attention to the following personality attributes (in excess) when looking to climb the corporate ladder. Though exactly which ones match your personality are uncovered in 1:1 leadership coaching sessions. More specifically, we’ll uncover which one of these leadership traps you’re most likely to fall into based on your personality and leadership archetype. Is your risk of losing your cool when you’re under pressure closer to the surface than you think?

Inside | Values that predict your style

Internally, we all have motives for achieving success. We also have innate strengths for creating a strong leadership presence. Do you value productivity over morale? Maybe you value social interaction over independence or experimentation over predictability. Here, we carve out your unique leadership style, which you can then use to land that promotion.

By the end of our session together, you’ll discover 1 – 4 standout motivators and values. This will help to predict your leadership style and the best way to reward your team.

Which do you value higher?

 Entrepreneurship, or security?

Culture and teamwork, or achievement?

Money success, or personal praise?

Through a series of questions, we’ll uncover which of the 10 motivators and values align with you.

Once you know what’s important to you, this will help you to aim for roles and environments that satisfy your needs. Learn how you can best motivate individuals in your team, driven by varying motivators. This way, when you land the promotion? You already know it’s with a team that aligns with your values. #genius

7. Your sensitive side: the secret to getting promoted

Getting a promotion is much more about emotional intelligence (EQ) and much less about IQ.

How emotionally in tune are you with your workplace and those around you? If you answered ‘not very’, don’t sweat it. Now that you’re acutely aware that how you treat people (not just projects) affects your leadership potential… here’s where strengthening your empathy muscle comes into play. With the right knowledge of and insight into your own character and where your strengths lie, your next promotion is absolutely possible.

Then, once the promotion’s yours? Knowing exactly how to create a positive tone to your leadership, mastering individual motivators (like how to get the most out of each team member while keeping them happy and productive) and team building (getting everyone to sing off the same hymn sheet) come into play. This will all depend on your individual team and the team culture you, as an individual, will cultivate.

Eleni Dracakis Business Psychologist

8. The exact next steps to getting your promotion

After teaching countless corporates across industries such as retail, hospitality, utilities, transportation and professionals such as firefighters, doctors, lawyers… I’m here to help you land your next promotion.

No matter your industry, everyone faces similar challenges. Why? Because being a leader is a lifelong (learning) journey! With 10+ years experience as a business psychologist, I offer the exact skills you need to uncover your powerful inner leader. To truly understand yourself, an outsider’s perspective is absolutely priceless. The fact that you’re here right now means you’re serious about climbing the ladder. So, there’s only one thing left to do. It’s time to unlock the lifelong insights you need to step into your promotion-ready self.

All that’s missing?

The personal insight to become an irresistible, promotion-ready leader!