5 Behaviors That Keep You From Getting Promoted

I run into them in every company I work with. Solid managers with real contributions. They work hard, they’re incredibly loyal, and they’ve been on the succession planning list forever. Much of the time they even have an MBA…AND they’re stuck. The promotions come and go. They’ve heard the pep talk so many times they can recite it in their sleep.

5 Behaviors That Keep You From Getting Promoted

Of course, there’s no easy way to know what’s holding any individual back. But I’ve done enough diagnosing, supporting, and helping to transform careers over the years that I’ve seen some consistent patterns. Don’t get stuck in these common traps.

  1. Relentless Self Promotion
    The minute people begin to think you’re more interested in your career than the organization’s mission you’re sunk. Do great work, find a sponsor, and stop tooting your own horn.
  2. Non Stop Energy
    Everyone loves a go-getter, do-it-all-fast kind of guy–at the frontline and middle manager level. But the time I spend in the C-Suites across a variety of industries reinforces what I’ve believed for a long time. Energy and intensity are great, but if you want to play with the big guys project an aura of calm, cool-headed control.
  3. Keeping Your Head Down
    You’re so focused on your team and your team’s results you miss the bigger picture. Work on strengthening your peripheral vision.
  4. Competing With Peers
    Real leadership takes more than being consistently at the top of the stack rank. Winning Well leaders know the important balance of results AND relationships. If it’s unlikely your peers will want to crack open some bubbly with you when you get that big promotion, chances are you may never get the chance to know.
  5. Inability to Let it Go
    Tenacity is one thing. But as they say, when the horse is dead, get off. Sometimes the answer is no, and you need to let it go. Winning Well leaders learn when to keep trying and when it’s time to move on (at least for the time being).

The Inspiration For This Post

One of my favorite clients has been using my Results That Last: 7 Roles Every Manager Must Master  program as the foundation for his mentoring circle work. Each week, they go through one module together, discuss the content and tools, and then they each go off and do the exercise with their teams before meeting again to review the next module.

Sometimes he brings in internal executives as guest speakers who are particularly good in the role they will be discussing that day. He’s also doing the 360 degree feedback tool twice, once at the beginning and once at the end of the program. I love the approach, and he’s seen a significant lift in business metrics. (If you want to learn more how you can use the course in this way, or other creative approaches, please call me on 443.750.1249.)

 As various questions comes up, he’s been batting them my way for additional perspective. I was intrigued by the one that came up last week.

 If we were coaching a person that has been a supervisor or leader for 10 plus years … What has held them back?  What characteristics have they been missing or overlooked? What haven’t they done that others have?  (The road map is not paved or golden? Or is it?)

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Posted in Results & Execution, Winning Well and tagged , , .

Karin Hurt

Karin Hurt, is CEO of Let’s Grow Leaders and a former Verizon Wireless executive. Karin was named on Inc.’s list of 100 Great Leadership Speakers for Your Next Conference, the American Management Association List of 50 Leaders to Watch, and as a Trust Across America Top Thought Leader in Trust. She’s the award-winning author of two books, Winning Well: A Manager’s Guide to Getting Results— Without Losing Your Soul, and Overcoming an Imperfect Boss. She’s regularly featured in business publications including Fast Company, Entrepreneur, and Inc.

6 Comments

  1. This is a great list, Karin. I’ve seen people sabotage themselves with all 5 of these behaviors.

    I do think the relentless self-promotion and competing with peers not only alienates everyone, it also impedes the quality of work because that person is so focused on self that the team becomes a means to an end…

  2. Thanks Karin. Great comments. I also look for that middle manager that has a greater focus on developing people on their team than they are on their own personal development for the purpose of their own advancement. It’s a matter of posture. I want to promote a manager that is keen on developing self so that he/she can develop others well. That manager I can always use at a higher level.

    • Jordan, Love it! Excellent point. So true. Managers truly focused on development leave a lasting legacy on the organization.

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