How not to be Passed Over for Promotion


Are you driving your career, or are you being a passenger?

In this post, I want to share some actions you can take to ensure you don’t have to swallow the bitter pill of disappointment when you are passed over for a job that should rightfully be yours.

Promotion Secret Sauce

Philip was furious, he had worked hard, stayed late, been loyal, exceeded his numbers, but missed out on the promotion he was expecting.

When he asked his boss the reason, he was told that the other directors felt he lacked, ‘Executive Presence’.

Philip hadn’t realized that he was missing the ‘Secret Ingredient’ to success in a modern organization, and it cost him. It cost him big time. The definition of executive presence is:

“Executive Presence is the ability to project confidence and gravitas (substance) under pressure.”

Executive Presence is about the right kind of ‘visibility’, whether the meeting is in person or on a global call. Having worked with many managers and leaders, to successfully develop their Executive Presence and get promoted. Let me share just 5 actions with you, that you can do starting today.

1. Stand Still and Tall

People, like Philip, who lack Executive Presence have a mindset that their work should speak for itself, they don’t realize that voice, posture, and gestures, ‘frame’ the message as important or not.

So, if you don’t want to be perceived as weak or lacking substance, the next time you speak on the phone or in person; before you even open your mouth, stand up straight, ‘own’ the space on which you stand, and speak confidently. Your mindset needs to be,

“I know my stuff and these people need to hear it”

This way people will feel your confidence, even if they are at the other end of a phone.

2.   Speak up

Some of us are indoctrinated with the mindset that Silence is ‘Golden’, but to be considered credible, we need a new mindset, “I speak up to contribute value”.

I want you to choose to be a regular and valuable contributor to discussions. You don’t have to have all the answers, but by sharing your perspective, you can demonstrate that you are working to be part of the solution.

If someone else makes a good point, verbally agree. If you disagree, acknowledge their perspective and then share your viewpoint or data. More about this in my next post, but for now, get your head in the game – start contributing value through your perspective.

3.   Own it!

People who are passed over, or unrecognized, often have the habit of discounting their achievements. This is driven by a mindset of false humility.

I want you to say, “If I’ve done it, it ain’t bragging!”

That’s right, if you have done it, it’s a fact, not a brag. As a Global Conference Speaker, I have spoken to audiences as large as 12,000 people. Now that’s not a brag, it happened

Do I talk about it all the time, of course not, but if I’m establishing my credibility with a Conference Organizer who needs to know I can handle the job, then absolutely!

So I want you to, take appropriate credit for your hard work and your results. I want you to cultivate a brand – and that brand is someone who is competent and gets things done.

You can say things like,

“That reminds me of when I was working on the such-and-such project and we faced a problem, I was able to solve it by doing… and then describe what you did”.

Or something like, 

“My value to this organization is my ability to identify customer experience problems before they happen, saving us hundreds of thousands of dollars in service recovery”.

4.   Take a Position

Having a mindset of “being polite” and avoiding giving “offense” may seem like a great idea, but not when it leads to you being perceived as a “Fence Sitter” without an authentic point of view.

Just like point 2, speaking up, Taking a Position means that you are valuable and you should never feel bad or apologize for this. For your next meeting, I want you to demonstrate that you care about the best outcome, by stating your position by saying something like,

“I think that this is the best way forward”.

The mindset here is that you are a driver, rather than a passenger in decision-making.

The trick to taking a position is to not make other people wrong, and the trick to that is to NEVER say, “BUT”

For example, That’s an interesting idea, “BUT”

The moment you say BUT you have negated everything they have said, instead say,

“That’s an interesting idea AND I have a different perspective.”

Using AND bridges two ideas

And if your idea turns out to be wrong you haven’t burned all your bridges.

5. Stop being a People Pleaser

This last piece of advice may seem to be counter-intuitive, and yet if you think about it, “Nice guys often finish last”.

The correct mindset shift here is from, “I need to be liked” to “I need to be effective”.

My advice is, Don’t be too eager and offer to do everything; instead, be a leader and invite others to step up and take responsibility. You can then offer your support or mentoring to ensure the agreed actions are taken.

By doing this, you say, “Yes” to the work that will make you “Shine” and “No” to the things that are not in your wheelhouse or are advancing someone else’s agenda.

I’m not saying don’t be a team player, just make sure when it’s your ball you run with it! 

Apply these 5 steps – and be blown away by the results you get!


And remember,

"You can’t lead others – unless you first lead yourself."





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