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Common Mistakes Executives Make When They Are Preparing for a Promotion

We constantly observe the big shots and oftentimes make certain notions about the formulas for success. With these, we are then led to believe that rising up the ladder comes to those who:

  • Are just plain lucky.

  • Are skillful in managing up more than managing down.

  • Are in careers where tenure equals expertise.

All of us may have been putting in more hours or getting more workload, yet most often than not, we can’t help but wonder why the transition from getting interview schedules to assuming the role is beyond us. In reality, one’s personal and career growth is, in fact, a compilation of paths we were pushed to take. Then again we fail to recognize significant moments that led us to where we are today.


Promotion is more than just getting the raise that everyone deserves. By definition, it’s a form of advancement or movement to a new territory that requires new skills to be learned in the shortest possible time. Most executives tend to grow complacent about career advancement because they think they’ve mastered it all. We must remember that the journey to success is full of moments that require us to stretch and embrace new challenges and skills.


As much as knowing that the “how to ...” is beneficial, we must also incorporate the “how not to …” in our arsenal. Here are the common items most executives leave out while waiting for their promotions.


  1. Investing time in preparation - No matter how similar certain roles may be, it’s always a different ball game altogether and preparation is always the best approach to any new situation. Desired results, or success, can only be achieved when opportunities are met by preparedness. Always bear in mind that perseverance is a contributing factor to achieving success.

  2. Recognizing the impact of reputation - An executive’s reputation serves as their business card since this is one of the most reliable sources about one’s track record. We always aim to “ace” interviews, but everyone now knows that impressive interviews may not be a clear reflection of the candidate’s capabilities. Know that word does travel fast and that a good hiring manager can spot these gaps.

  3. Prematurely taking on a role - The job and the credentials need to be a good match. Oftentimes promotions are viewed as an “escape” from an unwanted responsibility. Assess if they desire to move up is just more about fixing a broken job rather than improving the system.

  4. Establishing your network - The benefits of building good connections will go a long way and it doesn’t have to be just about getting recognized. It is also about being with and knowing the people who can give support and encouragement. All of us need to have that sense of belongingness in any environment.


I’m sure that we’ve experienced being passed over for promotion multiple times. Rather than sulking, a better approach is to evaluate the factors behind that decision. Getting promoted was never about because one wanted it, but rather how closely aligned a candidate’s vision is with the organization.

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