Ask Jo: Stuck! When you’re too valuable to be promoted.

Question: I feel stuck in my current position. I recently asked for a promotion but was told I am “too valuable” in the role I’m in. What should I do? — Business Analyst.

Answer: Ugh, that has got to be the ultimate backhanded compliment!

Here’s what I think is going on “between the lines” of that comment: You’ve outgrown your current role, but your personal brand has not.

Think back to a time when you really enjoyed your current role. I bet there was a time when this job was a stretch for you, and you stepped up to the challenge and performed like a rock star. You became known for doing your job so well that you built up some strong “personal brand” equity, and people know you as the go-to-person for this particular job. That’s what we call “a good problem to have”: you did a really good job of building a positive perception about your suitability for the role, but you may have done “too” good of a job!

Now to your current predicament: You’ve now outgrown the role and you’re capable of doing more, but people around you haven’t caught on yet because they still see you in that particular role. Their perception of you hasn’t evolved at the same pace as you’ve evolved. Don’t fault them for that. Do, however, think about the personal brand you want to be known for next and how you can better craft it to send the proper message. Here are two ways to achieve that:

1.) Scale up your brand

For your personal brand to accurately represent your current level of skill, it must grow – or scale up – along with you. Krista Thomas is Vice President of Product Marketing at Rubicon Project. Thomas has built a career around helping tech companies build great brands as they scale up to serve a growing customer base. So it’s not surprising that she would offer similar advice for anyone wanting to advance their career. Her advice for any ambitious emerging leader is “You must make your brand scalable.”

Your personal brand needs to scale up at certain key points in your career, such as when you want to make the leap from individual contributor to team leader, or from manager to executive. If it doesn’t, people will keep perceiving you the way they always have. Your career growth will stall.

Here are some questions to think about when it comes to scaling up your brand:

• What’s your goal?

• What role would you like to be in two years from today?

• What brand will you need to build now, in order to get there?

• What are the competencies of your next role that distinguish it from your current job?

• Which of those competencies can you demonstrate now?

When you do get a chance to talk to colleagues about what you’re working on, emphasize the next-level competencies and downplay lower-level competencies like the ones you’d prefer to leave behind. Also, look for high-visibility projects that allow you to work on those higher-level duties, and showcase those skills to your leadership.

To help you with this brand reinvention, here is a free video series with a step-by-step process for scaling up your brand to advance your career.

2.) Be replaceable

Here’s a final thought to keep in mind. Talent development expert Robert F. Solomon said that making yourself replaceable is a critical career advancement strategy. According to Solomon, “If you cannot be replaced you cannot be promoted. Your job can be expanded and you can take on additional responsibilities within your current pay band, but if you take up ‘permanent residence’ in a position you’ll miss a lot of career growth opportunities.”

But don’t forget what you’ve been taught along the way, which is to do your best at every opportunity for the good of your team and your organization. Don’t be that individual who climbs the ladder, kicks the ladder away, and lets it land on everyone else. So think about how to develop other leaders all around you as you scale up how you’re perceived, reinvent your brand, and lift others up as you climb.

Jo Miller

A leading authority on women’s leadership, Jo Miller is a sought-after, dynamic, and engaging speaker, delivering more than 70 speaking presentations annually to audiences of up to 1,200 women. Her expertise lies in helping women lead, climb, and thrive in their corporate careers. Jo has traveled widely in Europe, North America, Asia Pacific, and the Middle East to deliver keynotes and teach workshops for women’s leadership conferences, women’s professional associations, and Fortune 1000 corporate women’s initiatives. Jo is CEO of leadership development, consulting and research firm Be Leaderly. Learn more about her speaking engagements at www.JoMiller.net and follow @Jo_Miller on Twitter.

25 Questions to Ask a Mentor

Whenever I’m asked “What are some of the best questions to ask a ...

Four Types of Questions To Ask Your Mentor

Have conversations with your mentor gotten a bit repetitive lately? Perhaps you approached ...

25 Songs For Your Leadership Playlist

What are your all-time favorite leadership songs — the ones that make you ...

How to Shut Down a Colleague Who Takes Credit for Your Work

Has this ever happened to you? You’re in a meeting and the unthinkable ...

5 Ways to be a Leader, Not a Manager

Have you ever wondered about the difference between a manager and a leader? ...

11 Leadership Lessons Learned

Here are 11 lessons I’ve learned about leadership—mostly from much-admired colleagues, and just ...

10 Killer Leadership Skills: The Great Differentiators?

Last week at Hallmark I hosted a couple gentlemen from a partner company. ...

100 Leadership Qualities

What are your leadership strengths? That’s a question I ask in a survey ...

Influencing Without Authority—Using Your Six Sources of Influence

I am in the difficult situation of being unofficial project lead, responsible for ...

9 Traits of Exceptional Leaders

Truly great leaders are hard to come by, but it seems everyone thinks ...

If You’re Not Seizing Stretch Assignments at Work, You’re Doing It Wrong.
If You’re Not Seizing Stretch Assignments at Work, You’re Doing It Wrong.

 These bonus opportunities have the power to boost your leadership cred and wholly transform your

The Case for Why Millennial Women Should Job-Hop
The Case for Why Millennial Women Should Job-Hop

There are strong arguments for and against the debated practice, but for millennial women, job-hopping

Infographic: How to Slay a Stretch Assignment
Infographic: How to Slay a Stretch Assignment

Recent years have been full of talk about how to elevate women at work. Have you

Panel Presentations: Does Speaker Order Really Matter?
Panel Presentations: Does Speaker Order Really Matter?

On speaker panels, does the panelist order matter? If you’ve ever attended or spoken on

4 Tips for Failing Forward
4 Tips for Failing Forward

After you make a mistake, it’s easy to focus intently on your defects. And then

Press Release: Be Leaderly’s Selena Rezvani Wins 2019 Croly Award for Excellence in Journalism
Press Release: Be Leaderly’s Selena Rezvani Wins 2019 Croly Award for Excellence in Journalism

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa—July 9, 2019—The General Federation of Women’s Clubs is pleased to honor Selena

4 Steps to a Flexible Work Arrangement
4 Steps to a Flexible Work Arrangement

Are you hungry for a little more flexibility in your day?  If so, you’re not

Dealing with a Bossy Coworker
Dealing with a Bossy Coworker

You might expect the occasional “order” or “command” from your boss. But it’s a whole

Press Release: Be Leaderly Wins Gold & Silver at the 2019 Stevie Awards
Press Release: Be Leaderly Wins Gold & Silver at the 2019 Stevie Awards

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa—June 11, 2019—Be Leaderly, a globally recognized provider of women’s leadership development and

15 Questions to Ask Before Taking a Stretch Assignment
15 Questions to Ask Before Taking a Stretch Assignment

Stretch assignments are like the Instant Pot of career development. An intensely challenging, ambitious, go-big-or-go-home

Ask Jo: How can I thank my mentor?

Question: I have an incredible mentor. She ...

Teamwork is a Skill. It Takes Practice!

Everyone wants to lead, or be a ...

It’s Worth the Risk (I promise)

This is Sarah. She’s one of my ...

100 Leadership Qualities

What are your leadership strengths? That’s a ...

Leaderly Quote: Great Leaders Know When to Step Aside

“Great leaders know when to step aside.” ...

At Be Leaderly, our mission is a simple one: To provide proven career strategies that help you lead, climb, and thrive as a rising woman of influence. If you’re ready to lead, we’re here to support and inspire you.

Copyright 2019, Be Leaderly