It often happens that an employee is highly valued as a Director, but is nonetheless considered “not VP material.” When this occurs, the issue is usually behavioral. The Director is highly productive, but is considered “unpolished” or “annoying.” The Director may be very knowledgeable and capable, but unable to resist blurting inappropriate things in front of senior managers. Or, the employee may say nothing at all in meetings, which is also a problem. Or, the employee may tend to publicly speak out against company positions. In order to get promoted to VP, you need to be good at your job, but you also need to be considered a polished leader who can represent the company and will support hard decisions.
If you decide that acquiring people management experience really would address the issue, but you will not be given the opportunity to manage people at your current company, then think outside the box. Can you volunteer to manage the summer intern program? Can you volunteer to mentor the new hires in your department? Have you tried creating a budget that shows that you could double your output and productivity if you had a direct report? Can you volunteer to manage people or projects at a local nonprofit? Turn over all possible stones.
If you have really tried everything and made no progress, then you have a more focused choice:
Before you decide to leave a company you like, ask yourself how important it is to be a VP. Are you willing to work for a boss you don’t like and/or at a company you like less well than your current company? If you are, then it’s time to make the move.
You might also be interested in: My boss says I do terrific work; why don’t they promote me to VP?