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

Jo Miller is a globally renowned authority on women’s leadership. She’s dedicated two decades to helping women advance into positions of influence by leveraging their leadership strengths. Based on her work with hundreds of thousands of women, she developed a pragmatic and powerful roadmap that guides women to become the leaders they aspire to be. Jo shares this proven process in her book Woman of Influence: 9 Steps to Build Your Brand, Establish Your Legacy, and Thrive (McGraw Hill, 2019.)

Jo is CEO of leadership development, consulting and research firm Be Leaderly. Learn more about her speaking engagements at www.JoMiller.com 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 ...

100 Leadership Qualities

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

10 Killer Leadership Skills: The Great Differentiators?

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

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 ...

100 Leadership Qualities: What’s Your Signature Style of Leading?
100 Leadership Qualities: What’s Your Signature Style of Leading?

There’s an entire industry of books and seminars founded on the assumption that if you

20 Leadership Quotes by Women to Inspire You in 2020
20 Leadership Quotes by Women to Inspire You in 2020

20 of our favorite leadership quotes by women At Be Leaderly, we’re on a mission

Happy Holidays 2019
Happy Holidays 2019

May your Holidays sparkle with moments of love, laughter, and goodwill, and may the year

5 Ways to Shift From Doing to Leading
5 Ways to Shift From Doing to Leading

To become a leader, there is a series of key shifts in mindset and behavior

You Do You: Claim Your Leadership Strengths
You Do You: Claim Your Leadership Strengths

We are often so focused on trying to fix our weaknesses that we neglect to

Leaderly Quote: We are often so focused on trying to fix our weaknesses…
Leaderly Quote: We are often so focused on trying to fix our weaknesses…

We are often so focused on trying to fix our weaknesses that we neglect to

Book Review of Woman of Influence: A Handbook for Building a Professional Brand
Book Review of Woman of Influence: A Handbook for Building a Professional Brand

The first book review of Woman of Influence is in! Here’s what Jo Miller’s hometown

Leaderly Quote: Don’t become indispensable for doing work that hides your potential
Leaderly Quote: Don’t become indispensable for doing work that hides your potential

Don’t become indispensable for doing work that… • hides your potential • sells short your

Unhappy at Work? Persuade Your Boss to Redefine Your Job.
Unhappy at Work? Persuade Your Boss to Redefine Your Job.

Every morning, Jonas backs into a parking spot at work so he can leave faster

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

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 2020, Be Leaderly