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I Want the Same Promotion My Boss Wants — Should I Go for It?

  • By Christine Tardio
  • June 09, 2016

A job opened at my company that I'd love to apply for — but I just found out that my boss is gunning for the same position. Is it crazy for me to throw my hat into the ring? Yes, she's ranked higher than me, but I'm actually very qualified for the position — maybe even more so than she. I don't want to ruin my relationship with her over competition, but it's basically my dream job.

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Generally speaking, there are two different kinds of organizational structures in businesses today. One is the more traditional, hierarchical, vertical model where employees climb “up” the corporate ladder. The other is the horizontal, flat mode. It’s usually very team-focused, titles can be less important, and advancement is based much more on merit than time served.

If you’re working for one of this newer breed of company, your chances of being promoted over your boss are higher if you really are more qualified than she is, and you’ve been smart about marketing yourself within the company so your senior management knows it. If you’re working for the more traditionally structured business, the likelihood of jumping over your boss to get the promotion is significantly lower.

Given all that, if the position really is your dream job, consider what you’re willing to risk. If you go for it and lose it to your boss (or maybe neither of you get it), you’ve shown your boss your hand and there’s a very good chance that relationship will suffer as a result. Assuming that impacts your future with the company, you could very well be forced to look for another job.

If you don’t go for the position, you may feel like you’re treading water in a job you don’t love, hoping your dream job opens up again. And maybe the person who gets it performs well in the role, making that an impossibly long wait. Your reaction to either situation may cause you to ultimately decide to leave the company, as well.

Play out the various scenarios in your head. You may find that given all the alternatives — and your clear desire to work at your dream job — you’re willing to take the risk. In that case, put your best foot forward and go for it.

Christine Tardio is a trusted advisor and business coach to a dynamic range of women business leaders. She can be reached at thelookinglass.com.

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