How to emerge from your manager’s shadow

How to emerge from your manager’s shadow

Your career can suffer if your boss is the only other person who knows your strengths


Ask your manager to publicly recognise your contributions

Ask your manager to publicly recognise your contributions


Being your boss’s right-hand man can have its benefits, but if he is the only one who knows your strengths, that can be detrimental to your career. If you’re in this situation, here’s some advice on how to come out from behind your manager’s shadow.

1 Determine if there is a problem Even when you have a good relationship with your manager, it can still be a struggle to make your mark. A good litmus test for determining whether you are in your boss’s shadows is to ask yourself: can I name three people outside my department who understand what I do and what I’m good at?

2 Ask your boss for help The best-placed person to increase your visibility at the company and expand your network is your boss. So make the request. Ask your manager to publicly recognise your contributions at high-level meetings so that others will begin to recognise your value. And ask for help connecting with colleagues across the organisation.

3 Seek new and different opportunities Offer to help with a project that will increase your exposure to new parts of the company. Serve on a focus group to assess a new vendor or benefit options. Volunteer for a committee that will include people from other functions and departments.

4 Speak up in meetings Expanding your relationships at work and increasing your interaction with senior management requires you to make concerted efforts to raise your profile. So ask your boss if you can sit in on an important meeting with higher-ups; ask the marketing team if you can tag along on a sales call with a prominent client.

5 Socialise with your colleagues If you want colleagues to get to know you better and to see you as your own person, you need to put yourself in a variety of professional and social situations. Take advantage of informal opportunities – in the cafeteria, through the company sports events or through a charity run.

6 Be patient Establishing a reputation independent of your boss takes time. If you’re frustrated by the pace of your career and are worried about being forever in the shadows of your manager, ask yourself some questions. Am I growing? Am I learning? Am I enjoying what I’m doing? – Copyright Harvard Business Review 2015

Previously published in The Irish Times.


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