I have been in leadership positions since I was a kid - at various school societies (two of which I founded and still exist after I left) and later at university, as well as at non-profit organizations that had appointed me, as well as a small business. I think I am good at coordinating and motivating people and I enjoy not only managing but also the topic/subject of management.

I also climbed the first step on the corporate ladder shortly after joining my current company in a first level manager role (and simultaneously hold director position at a small non-profit organization).

However, I feel like this is not enough: either I am not tapping my full potential, or am not yet skilled at managing politically. I guess that in my smaller organizations I had more freedom to make my own call on what was best to improve the team and organization, whereas now I am constrained by an intricate network of stakeholders, personalities and conflicting interests above me.

As I want to become a senior manager, I realize I have to improve my political skills beyond merely coordinating and motivating teams. I think I need to learn how to influence those above me.

What are some useful ways to learn this outside of work? Are there some specific types of organizations where I could learn by volunteering? Free time activities? Or courses? How can I get some good preparations for this?

P.S.: I should add that I am, by personality, a bit intimidated by those hierarchically above me, mainly out of fear for saying something wrong. So, I think while in my volunteering roles and startups I took all risks, I am much much more careful in the corporate environment!

  • That last PS suggests that you would benefit from doing a course where your 'intimidation' is challenged. Obviously there's some 'old' idea in your head (about 'higher ups') that stops you from being completely free with them. – user8036 Dec 10 '14 at 9:42