Don’t Rely on Your Boss to Sell You Upward

Don’t Rely on Your Boss to Sell You Upward


When I was just starting out at Macy’s I had big plans for myself and a roadmap for climbing the corporate ladder. I overachieved, made my bosses look great, and took advantage of every opportunity to enroll in career development workshops and leadership development seminars. But my boss and the HR department were not willing to champion my cause and market me for the promotion I wanted. That’s when I began to understand two of the biggest myths of getting promoted.

Myth #1

Your boss is going to market your promotion up the ladder to the key decision makers to help sell them on your value.

  • Face it. Your boss is overworked and focused on his or her own career. They don’t have time to keep track of each and every one of your newly acquired skills or contributions.
  • It’s up to you to engage in leadership development and keep a record of your expanding tool kit and list of professional achievements.

Eventually you’ll get a chance to present that information to key decision makers or to bring it to the attention of your otherwise distracted boss, so they begin to appreciate your increased value.

Myth #2

The results you generate for your company will automatically earn you credits and enrich your reputation as key contributor.

  • Did you implement a labor-saving technology or system in the office or contribute a great idea that boosts revenues? That’s great!(If not, look for ways to take some risks and put forward your bold ideas.)
  • But don’t expect to automatically get credit for it unless you document that work and then market it as part of your professional brand and campaign to get promoted.

Your chance to sell your value-add may come during a performance review or when you find yourself mingling with higher-ups at a conference, retreat, or after a company presentation. Once it happened to me thanks to a chance encounter with a higher-up during a ride in the elevator.

But the key is to be ready. That starts now – as you figure out ways to package and present your various talents and accomplishments so that they stop going unnoticed and start getting rewarded!


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Sarah Hathorn is a leadership development mentor, executive presence coach, image and branding consultant, public speaker & author. She is the founding CEO of her own successful company, Illustra Consulting, and the creator of the proprietary Predictable Promotion™ System.

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Copyright © 2013, Sarah Hathorn, AICI CIP, CPBS

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