Taro Logo

The 4 Paths To Manager Growth. Choose One.

Ethan Evans is a retired Amazon VP who now teaches managers how to break into executive levels.

He shares how to get promoted as a front-line manager (M1). The pre-requisite is that you must do good work. This means motivating your team, delivering results, and organizing them effectively. M1s are focused inward and downward, with most of their time and attention on their team. M2s (managers of managers) focus on the bigger picture, considering how their team fits into the larger organization and collaborating for overall success.

Four main ways to grow:

  • Organic growth: Your team and the company naturally expand, increasing your responsibility.
  • Filling holes: Someone above you leaves, and you're chosen due to your performance.
  • Reorganizations: Teams get shuffled, and you absorb parts of others' responsibilities.
  • Lead a new initiative: Successfully launching a new project demonstrates leadership and initiative, potentially leading to promotion.

When times were good (i.e. metrics were strong and the company was doing well), there was more capacity for people to get promoted. For example, the gold, silver, and bronze medalist (3 people) may have gotten promoted, but in a stagnant company, only the gold medalist would get the promo.

Although you can't control when people leave or if there will be a re-org, what you can do is focus on being the top performer: Consistently deliver excellent results, demonstrate strong leadership, and be ready to take on additional responsibilities.

Relevant follow-ups: