An important point to clarify is if a leadership opportunity becomes available because someone has resigned, or been promoted, or the company has grown, or if it is based on your performance. If seeking leadership is about waiting for a vacancy look at how often vacancies come up and if your employer tends to promote from within or hire externally.
In sales or business development orientated departments leadership opportunities are more often about the person having achieved certain financial goals. If this is the case speak to your Manager (or the relevant Manager) about specific time frames and milestones. Try to ensure that these agreements are in writing that there are defined measurable KPIs in place and that you are receiving feedback on your progression towards them. Often the level of detail given by the company reflects their intentions – the more detailed the information provided to you the better position you are in. Take advantage of any leadership, mentoring or professional development programs that are on offer. Don’t just look at leadership, often it can be soft skills or business development skills that can position you just as well.
Be sure to document your activities and achievements specific to development and achievement and consider how you can communicate what you are doing to a decision maker. A performance review is the best way to do this but if your company doesn’t have these in place it can be worth asking for a one-on-one meeting with your Manager.
Another way to demonstrate your potential is by volunteering to lead projects, social events, mentorship, training, or assisting with aspects of the company outside the scope of your role.
Ultimately demonstrating your vision to help, teach, inspire, develop and support others will attract attention and put a spotlight on your desire to lead.