Primary Blog/Career Growth & Guidance/How to Overcome Promotion Anxiety and Step Up into Leadership

How to Overcome Promotion Anxiety and Step Up into Leadership

Sunday, April 30, 2023

Have you ever been afraid to take on a new project or responsibility? Maybe your manager was looking for volunteers or a promotion came up, but you were too afraid to go for it.

Stepping up into leadership could be a new project, overseeing a team, or a formal promotion. Sometimes a manager is looking for a leader to take on more responsibility. What keeps you from putting up your hand and saying, “I’ll do it!?”

Despite wanting a promotion, you might be nervous to take action and go after it. Promotion anxiety is when you are afraid or nervous of taking on more responsibility. It seems a little unbelievable—doesn’t everyone want a promotion? But there are so many factors that contribute to promotion anxiety. And if you don’t uncover the root causes and take steps to change, you may stay stuck in the same place forever.

Remember: knowledge is not power, it is only potential power. But applied knowledge is power. As you read this, internalize the five self-improvement tips to implement and make a change.

Root Causes of Promotion Anxiety

There are three root causes of promotion anxiety:

1. Incongruence

Incongruence is the difference between what you say you desire versus the actions that you take. For example, you might tell your friends and family that you are ready for a promotion. But when your manager is looking for leaders to take on a new project, you hesitate and let someone else take the reins. This is an incongruence between what you say and what you do.

This incongruence is related to an unconscious unwillingness to make a change. You are holding yourself back by not acting, but you might not even be aware of it! Once you are aware, then you can start making changes.

Many professionals are unwilling to invest in the “soft”, non-technical skills like communication or leadership. Communication skills are one of the most important skills that a leader can learn—and it is a learned skill!

2. You don’t know what’s going to happen

Everyone wants to be sure of an outcome before they start something new. We always want to know the ending! But unfortunately, that is not how things work in the real world. You need to act first and see what the outcome is.

This involves some risk-taking and flexibility. You need to be willing to be a bit uncomfortable at the beginning as you are trying something out. But as you take steps forward, things will become clearer, and you’ll understand where you are trying to go.

3. Our expectations are in the opposite direction

Many people work hard their whole life to achieve their desires and take disciplined action to get there. And while we are working hard towards our desired outcomes, sometimes we expect that things won’t work out the way we desire.

Every action you take in the present is based on an expectation you have of the future. Which means all your actions are produced based on the expectation you have about the future. Which means your expectations of the future produce your experience of life.

We expect a certain outcome, so we take action in the direction of that outcome, and therefore that outcome happens. The outcome happens because we act on it. The only reason we act on it is because we expect it.

Empower your expectations for the future by giving more energy to outcomes you desire.

Self-Improvement Tips

After understanding these root causes, you can move towards inspired action. Knowledge is not power on its own—applied knowledge is power. Take some steps today to overcome promotion anxiety to reach your professional goals.

Here are five self-improvement tips to help you overcome promotion anxiety:

  • ​Seek the truth: We want to have confidence, and the root word is “confide.” This is speaking the truth to someone. Truth is so important to hold on to. Remind yourself of the truth about who you are and what you want. This will help you find congruence to take that next step towards promotion.
  • ​Submit to the teacher: A good coach will tell you things that seem uncomfortable or don’t always make sense. But you are looking for something new and different—so submit to their expertise and take a new path. They are outside of you and can provide a new perspective that you can’t see yourself.
  • ​See your treasure: What value do you bring to the table? Not just your work experience, but your entire life experience gives you a valuable skillset and knowledge that no one else has. Take some time to remember all you are bringing to the table! This will spark your confidence and motivation to go after a promotion.
  • ​Sell your treasure: Be able to communicate your treasure—your unique skill and knowledge. This is where communication comes in. If you learn to communicate well, you can persuade people on both the micro (colleague) and macro (leadership) level that you have something to offer.
  • ​Sustain your transformation: You don’t want a short-term change; you want something that lasts! You want to improve year over year, not just a one-time thing. Look for the areas that you are still growing in and continue to learn and grow.


Promotion anxiety is a real thing that can hold you back from reaching your professional goals. Take some time to consider what root cause is impacting you, and then determine what you’re going to do to overcome it! Promotion and growth opportunities are out there, but it is up to you to take steps towards it and transform your life and career.

If you are decisive, resourceful and committed to submit to a teacher, apply HEREfor an opportunity to work with me.

With gratitude from your #1 fan,

 © Mastery Insights Inc.  All Rights Reserved

© Mastery Insights Inc. All Rights Reserved