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What to Do When You Are Ready For Promotion, But No One Else Can See It

One of the most frustrating experiences in my career has been knowing deep down that I'm ready for a promotion, backed by tangible results and a strong belief in my abilities...

But no one else seemed to see it!

It felt like being in a surreal movie where I was invisible, waving in front of friends who couldn't see me.

My manager didn’t feel I was ready. The executive team didn’t feel I was ready. And when they all doubted my readiness, I started wondering:

Am I actually ready?

If you have the skills, experience, and potential to make a big impact, there’s no reason you shouldn’t be getting promoted into executive roles.

Yet only a small percentage (less than 9%) of ambitious professionals make it there.

Today, I want to break down why you can be AMAZING and still get passed over for promotion and what you can do to fix it.

Let’s dive in.

What is actually holding you back?

Let me ask you a question.

Honestly, could you handle your manager's role? If given a chance, would you excel?

If your gut response is a resounding "hell yes," chances are, you're correct. But if you're the only one who sees your potential, you might not get the opportunity to prove it.

So why do you feel ready while others can't see it?

There are several reasons.

Does this scenario sound familiar?

  • You're putting in 50-70 hour weeks to tick off everything on your to-do list, achieving your goals, but much of this effort doesn't move the needle.

  • You've attempted to secure a promotion or ask for a raise before, only to be overlooked or denied. As a result, you default to working harder to validate yourself.

  • Despite having excellent ideas, you struggle to be perceived as executive material. Most people still view you as the "get sh*t done" person. Seeking recognition feels like pulling teeth, and you hate it.

  • You thought the issue was with your boss or the company, so you changed jobs, hoping for a fresh start. Yet, after a year in this new role, you find yourself exactly where you started.

If this resonates with you, you don’t have a skill problem—it's a perception problem.

And you can’t change a perception problem with hard work. But you can do this instead.

How to fix a perception problem

A perception problem means there is a disconnect between how you see yourself and how the decision-makers see you.

There are 3 reasons why you may be sending the wrong message:

1. Your work is not making the right impact

You may be putting in hours and crossing things off of your list, but the result of your efforts isn’t impactful for your organization or company.

How do you recognize low-impact work?

Often, low-impact work is administrative or operational in nature, manual or repetitive, and has little or no impact on the company’s bottom line. This kind of work positions you as a dependable workhorse but not a strategic partner.

As you level up, your goal is to do less low-impact work and more high-impact work. You do that by choosing or volunteering for projects that move the needle. You can identify critical problems and offer to solve them or take work off of your manager’s plate. Over time, you can delegate, automate, or eliminate the low-impact work.

To position yourself as executive material, you need to do more work that matters to the people above you. That is how you get their attention and change their perception.

2. You don’t have visibility with the right people

Your work doesn’t speak for itself. Even if you take on more high-impact work, if the right stakeholders are not aware of your impact… they will have no reason to change their perception.

That means you need to pursue visibility with your stakeholders actively.

The team at Amazing If has a great guide for getting more visibility at work. You can download it and listen to the episode here.

Here are some practical ideas from me:

  • Ask your stakeholders for feedback on your work in progress (get your work in front of them)

  • Leverage organizational forms to present your work (think all hands)

  • Set meetings with cross-functional leaders to learn about their work (and share yours)

You don’t need to shout from the rooftops or send tedious emails; you can collaborate into visibility.

3. You are not communicating in the right way

How you communicate has a great impact on how you are perceived.

I often see presentations dragging on with loads of background info, history, and details. Folks want to impress the execs by giving them everything they've got.

But here's the thing—it often backfires. When you flood them with every tiny detail, struggle to get to the point, and dive too deep, you look less experienced rather than more impressive.

Your communication must be clear, concise, and confident to be perceived as executive material.

You do it by focusing on two things: the message itself and the delivery.

Here’s how:

Frame your message as an executive summary. Deliver a concise overview of your presentation's key points, findings, and recommendations. Your goal is to provide a quick understanding of the main content without needing to go deep into the details.

Next, think about the delivery. The higher up you go, the less time you have to get to your point.

The solution is to start with your main point and then track back the logic with evidence that supports your proposal. This approach ensures that you capture attention and make your case effectively.

Your Next Steps

No amount of hard work can fix a perception problem. In fact, it might do the opposite and keep you stuck.

The good news is that you don’t need to work more hours to be seen as an executive; instead, you need to change HOW you show up.

Be more intentional about the impact of your work, the people you engage with, and the story you tell.

That’s how you’ll evolve from being seen as a dependable employee to becoming a rising star.

I believe in you, and I’m rooting for you.

Maya ❤️


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