BLUF: How do you ensure you become part of the leadership team (or at least are not excluded from it), when that team consists of college networks and alumni?
I am not sure if this specific situation was discussed already or if there are any resources.
I work at a young tech/e-commerce company (Pinterest/Facebook-style - approx 1000 employees, multinational) and have been a junior/middle manager or project manager for a few years, i.e. over time, I have been promoted to head new projects across different departments. There is also one specific team of which I have been the direct manager for 2 years.
One of the reasons I feel I have been moved around laterally rather than upward on the ladder is that most senior managers (Head of..., Director of, COO, CFO, etc.) seem to have been connected way before they were hired at the company: either they were old boys from the same school or university, or are good friends of friends. We once had a case where a guy who had just finished college was appointed manager of a team previously led by someone with 4+ years of experience.
There are some good success stories in this, i.e. I learned that age and experience can mean nothing. The college-grad manager mentioned above brought in much more to the company than his predecessor.
However, there are also multiple situations where good people are ignored in crucial communication, and career growth is stifled in favor of the COO's college buddy. People (including myself) are easily demotivated by the influx of network-based seniors rather than internal promotions.
I have been following a lot of articles on how to climb up the ladder, but despite the praise and "lateral promotions" I receive, I have come across many degrading situations, where even in day-to-day work I find out things last, or am put out of the loop - while my boss discusses strategies over a morning jog with my lateral colleagues.
A recent example:
The same college-grad manager mentioned above (who is at my same level in terms of rank) had assigned some tasks to my direct reports - and I hadn't found out until my direct report asked me how to prioritize tasks because he had too much on his plate... When I told my boss he said it was fine. Worst of all, this college-grad manager had even made a few decisions that are under my area of responsibility, without ever telling me.
While I don't want to come across as someone trying to stop teamwork, and I am in no absolute hurry to become the next Director (maybe I have been discouraged by all my attempts?), I just feel like I am being put out of the loop, decisions made without me, etc. and the lack of communication is a bit degrading.
How would you solve a situation like this, how do you find more vertical career growth up the ladder? How do you ensure you become part of the leadership team (or at least are not excluded)... when the team is consists of college networks and alumni?
P.S.: aside from this situation, I otherwise have a good professional relationship with my boss and other managers senior to me. I am actually one of the very few in the whole company who has been promoted from within so despite not being in the loop, I am one of the first to know when we look at the entire company. I am confident that they trust me more than the majority of other employees and junior managers.