Mian is already working for five years in the same role. She knows all the in’s and out’s of her current job perfectly well. She has a good understanding of the company processes and rules and is liked by everyone. Nevertheless she has been bypassed several times when growth opportunities became available.

A great leader:

  • Is self-confident, self-aware and assertive;
  • Knows what she wants from a career, is personally committed and actively works to continuously improve herself;
  • Markets herself for opportunities and does not wait for others to open doors for her;
  • Builds strong network relationships;
  • Acts on constructive feedback.

How to best handle the situation:

There are a number of reasons why you, despite a solid performance, are being bypassed, when growth opportunities become available.

Maybe you are not coming across confident enough to do the job on the next level, maybe you are thinking “job only” and have no strategic vision or company mindset, maybe you are “invisible”, maybe you are not open for constructive feedback, maybe you expect your work to speak for itself (It does not. You do!), maybe you believe your current skills will last and you don’t need to learn and grow or maybe you don’t know what to do and how to start.

Those who learn, grow and change continuously throughout their careers are the most successful. Acquiring new skills is your best insurance for moving ahead.

Learning suggestions:

  • Ask your HR department to conduct a 360-degree feedback assessment. This will allow you to see yourself as others see you and provide the opportunity to work on areas for development. If this is not possible, get into the habit of routinely asking people what you could do more of, less of, stop doing or continue doing to be even more effective in your job;
  • Be specific about what you want. Don’t just think: “I want to get ahead”, but figure out exactly what success will look like. What position do you want and when? (Getting specific will help you to stay motivated and makes it easier to see what steps you need to take to reach your goal);
  • Self-promotion: one of the keys to success is your ability to let others know who you are, what you have to offer and how you can make a difference in their organization. Think of yourself like a brand in the way you behave and in the way you present yourself and don’t be afraid to speak up; put your hand up and put yourself forward;
  • Expand the boundaries of your job description by doing things that aren’t asked of you but that need to be done;
  • Volunteer to give presentations to senior management (exposure to senior management is critical for recognition);
  • Ask your manager for (projects) assignments that will provide you with opportunities to expand your skills set;
  • Spend time building solid network relationships in and outside your company;
  • Select a manager whom you know well to act as your mentor. Hold regular sessions with him/her to understand how the different functions operate. What are the topics of most interest to them? What are the issues of concern? What advice and support would they value from you? What is the most appropriate language to use in these conversations?
  • Pick a topic in which you want to deepen your expertise. Do some research on best practices in this area (e.g. thought leadership, leading companies) to get some ideas on how you can stretch and develop your expertise;
  • Unless the responsibilities within a job change significantly, change job every three to five years;
  • Moving side ways will expand your skills set and business understanding; as such it broadens and deepens your experience;
  • Get as much education and training as you can. Obstacles like lack of money and time should not hold you back anymore with the many new virtual learning tools in place;
  • Regularly review the publications of futurologists to stay abreast of future thinking about the (mega)-trends that are impacting society. Participate in at least one event per year where you are provoked by ideas from individuals with an unusual view on the world;
  • Join a LinkedIn group and other external networks of professionals to discuss issues in your field;
  • Make reading a daily habit. Research has shown that reading keeps leaders smart, creative and social. For those who want to lead, reading is not a nice to have; reading is a habit that successful leaders consider critical to their success. Leaders are readers!
  • When you find yourself doubting your ability, remember that ability grows with experience and effort. In other words: “The will must be stronger than the skill” (Sheryl Sandberg);


Knowing who you are is not easy. It takes honesty, emotional maturity and perspective. Do you know your five greatest strengths and your five greatest areas for development? Challenge yourself by asking a trusted advisor to validate your personal assessment.

Femcommunity tips:

We welcome your thoughts, experiences and comments on how you would deal with such a situation.


Read more about Co-Colours and Co-Colours Team.


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