Master These 3 Soft Skills to Improve Your Chances for Promotion

soft skills promotion

Most business leaders are familiar with the Peter Principle. Originally branded in 1969, this concept refers to a common workplace phenomenon.

It suggests that employees are often promoted based on their ability to do their current job rather than ability to do the advanced-level job.

The Peter Principle is frequently cited as the reason that poor managers end up where they are—and stay there. In the past, these people were likely very good at the work they did and therefore earned a promotion. But, because they aren’t good managers, they fail to earn future promotions.

These days, for fear of falling victim to the Peter Principle, leaders are more cautious in their hiring decisions. They look for people who are not only strong performers in their current roles, but those who also possess traits relevant to successfully performing at a higher level.

As you rise through the ranks of the corporate world, soft skills become more important. Technical competence still matters, but it’s the intangible traits that really help managers excel.

If you’re looking to earn a promotion in the near future, it certainly helps to be good at your current job. But if you really want to be a shoe-in—and be successful once you get there—you’ll need to master some very important soft skills.

Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence, often referred to as EI or EQ, is the ability to identify and understand emotions in yourself and others, and to use this awareness to positively direct your behaviors.

People who have strong EI demonstrate empathy toward others and are able to productively cope with stress and change. These traits are both powerful and subtle; they are the hidden assets that make some managers appear approachable and composed, while those lacking EI seem distant and erratic.

Also read: Is Emotional Intelligence Really Necessary?


Advancing your career means taking on more responsibility and accepting greater authority. Leaders want to know that the people charged with decision-making possess good judgment.

It’s not enough to simply show that you can take direction; you must demonstrate that you can determine the right course of action without direction. You must prove your ability to weigh options, extrapolate outcomes, and make intelligent choices, even when you have precious few resources at your disposal.

Also read: Are You Missing Golden Opportunities for Self-Promotion?

Articulating Vision

Establishing yourself as a rising leader requires a strong point-of-view. More importantly, it requires the ability to effectively communicate that perspective to others. In the workplace, people who can rally a group around a new idea are invaluable. Leaders want to promote people like this into roles where they can leverage their influence on a larger scale.

Masterful communicators can share even the most difficult messages in a way that others can receive. They don’t shy away from difficult, uncomfortable conversations. Instead, they relish the opportunity to hone their craft.

Developing these three soft skills in combination with the hard skills you already possess will put you in an ideal position for promotion. They’ll also serve you well as you advance your career because, unlike the poor Peters of the world, you’ll continue to be promotable!

About the Author

Chrissy Scivicque is a career coach, corporate trainer and public speaker who believes work can be a nourishing part of the life experience. Her website, Eat Your Career, is devoted to this mission. Chrissy is currently a contributing career expert for U.S. News & World Report and the author of the book, The Proactive Professional: How to Stop Playing Catch Up and Start Getting Ahead at Work (and in Life!), available on Amazon.