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News & Blogs: New Gen Leaders

3 missteps that hurt your career

Wednesday, March 25, 2015  
Posted by: Barbara Francella
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By Jo Miller

Let’s face it: It isn't easy to break out and establish yourself as an up-and-coming leader inside a large corporation. Some days you can feel like the best kept secret in the organization.

For more than 15 years, I've been training emerging women leaders to break into positions of management and leadership. I have helped women avoid the most common missteps that could be putting a lid on their career advancement. Here are the top three missteps you should avoid:

Misstep 1: Waiting to be promoted. Your management may have said if you "work hard" and "do a good job," you'll be recognized. But if you've already tried that route, you'll know that it can bring mixed results at best.

Related: Are you on fire — or just burned out?

You can't afford to delegate responsibility for your career advancement to your boss. Instead of waiting for a promotion, take charge of your career trajectory by identifying the role you want next and giving voice to your ambition. Let it be known that you are throwing your hat in the ring for that role.

Misstep 2: Allowing others to define your reputation. Inevitably, the people you work with perceive you a certain way. They have formed opinions — judgments, even — about what you are good at and not good at. You already have a brand or reputation, but it has taken place by default, not by design. Don't wait for others to discover who you really are.

Instead, build your brand as an emerging leader. Identify what you want your name to be synonymous with, and create a short, succinct brand statement such as "the go-to person for strategy" or "the bridge between engineering and finance." Make sure it describes something you are passionate about, skilled at, that your employer needs and values.

To build your own leadership brand before others build it for you, create awareness of your brand by adding it to your LinkedIn profile, your email signature and your elevator pitch.

Misstep 3: Working too hard. Believe it or not, working too hard can be a career misstep, especially if it's work that's neither valued — nor visible. If you are a hard worker and develop a reputation for hard work, guess what you'll attract more of? More hard work! And not necessarily the visibility and recognition that is due to you for the work you do.

So don’t be the best kept secret in your organization. In other words, don't spend 100 percent of your time at your desk, head down, doing your job. Make a point of stepping away from your work on a weekly, or even daily, basis to do activities that make your value visible. Promote your accomplishments as you achieve them, not after the fact.

What action will you take to move ahead in your career?

Jo Miller, CEO of Women’s Leadership Coaching Inc. and founding editor of, facilitates the NEW Leadership Academy webinars designed to help emerging leaders build core skills and prepare for top management roles in their organizations.

Views expressed in blogs, posts and user comments are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Network of Executive Women or its Officers, Board members and corporate partners.

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