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What’s the biggest challenge you face in taking your career to the next level?


SmartPulse — our weekly nonscientific reader poll in SmartBrief on Leadership — tracks feedback from more than 220,000 business leaders. We run the poll question each week in our newsletter.

What’s the biggest challenge you face in taking your career to the next level?

  • I’m lacking key skills. 10.1%

  • There are no open roles above me. 36.8%

  • I’m happy where I am and don’t want to move. 19.8%

  • I’m ready, but no one will take a chance on me. 15.9%

  • I don’t know what that next level is for me. 17.4%

Find a path. Many of you (80%) have an issue with your path to promotion. Whether it’s not knowing what the next role is, not having a spot to move into, not having the skills or not having a sponsor, many of these can be addressed by some proactive work on your part. If you’re missing skills, ask for training or seek knowledge sources like books or online classes. If it’s a question of no open roles or not having clarity on the next role, find a mentor and speak with your manager about your desire to grow. They may be aware of roles you’re not. They may also have suggestions on what good next opportunities could be for you. Sitting there waiting for someone to point the way doesn’t speak to a desire to advance. If you’ve built the key skills and identified a potential opportunity ahead of you by communicating with your leadership, the odds of someone taking a chance on you will definitely increase.

Mike Figliuolo is managing director of thoughtLEADERS. Before launching his own company, he worked at McKinsey & Co., Capital One and Scotts Miracle-Gro. He is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. He’s the author of three leadership books: “One Piece of Paper,” “Lead Inside the Box” and “The Elegant Pitch.”