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Have you ever felt that from the outside your career is going along well, you’re meeting your objectives, you’re efficient at getting things done, you’re able to achieve tasks on time that others can’t, but for some reason, you feel like you’re being overlooked, like you career has stalled yet you’re not sure why? Your confidence has always been a strong pillar of your career and who you are. Unfortunately, with another recent “pass over” (all with good reasons) you’re starting to wonder what you’re missing.
You’ve tried to “logic” this latest near miss away but you’re starting to feel that this is a pattern, a certain trend that you can’t put your finger on which is repeating itself, and you’re beginning to wonder if you’re the only one that’s not seeing the reasons why.
Many high performing individuals have faced the same challenge and doubted their abilities. Sure, it would be simple to change teams or organisations but that means starting again, and yes you could just knuckle down and work harder – after all, you’ve faced big challenges before. You’ve also started to wonder if the problem is just with the decisions that others are making, or is there a subtle message here that you should pay attention to?
The usual and natural approach is to ask your manager and even trusted peers about how this could be, but their responses are of no comfort and plainly just don’t make sense. Most of your career you’ve been on the fast track now you feel like you’re on the side track and watching less capable individuals go by.
Richard (not his real name) was a high performer in a top tier professional services firm. He’d worked hard for years but was getting overlooked for Partner. There were always good reasons; “someone’s business case was better this year”, “we’re not putting as many up this year as we normally do”, “we feel like you’re almost there and it’s not far away”. While all these reasons individually made sense, as a string of events Richard started to doubt himself and wonder if he was valued at the firm anymore.
Working with Richard we we’re able to ask questions about his reputation. What were other’s thinking and saying behind his back, what did they say when he wasn’t in the room? What were the things they were really holding him back? Through our discovery process the theme of executive presence started to emerge as a potential limiter to Richard’s career. When we shared this theme with Richard he’d acknowledged that it had been mentioned but he wasn’t sure what it meant. What we uncovered was that Richard’s confidence; a strong core of who he was and how he got his results was limiting his career and starting to impact his relationships and reputation.
Being overly confident in middle management levels gets you noticed and gets you promoted. But at senior levels high confidence and boldness is seen as; lacking presence and sensitivity, limiting humbleness, self-serving and self-promoting at the expense of others. You see, Richard was valued and did great work but his reputation and therefore his career was summed up by others saying, “yeah but……………………….”
There are four critical areas that you must get right so can get out of the “yeah but……………………..” conversations
- Executive Presence
- Communication Style
- Lateral Relationships
- Delegation and Load Management
Richard, through assessing his boldness against international benchmarks, translating his personal confidence into business winning and team developing behaviours was able to change his reputation and successfully be promoted to Partner.
What’s your experience on how to manage when your career is being stalled without any obvious reasons?