Past The Glass Ceiling: Where To Go When You’re “That Good”…


We want to be great at what we do.  So much so that we put our heads down and work hard and rarely come up for air to take in anything outside of our area of expertise.  We’re so focused, we become experts in our field and wake up one day realizing we’re alone.

Branding, localization, other very specialized areas of marketing… there are not a lot of CxO or SVP jobs for these specializations.  Where do we fit?  Once we’re great at what we do, where do we go?  Who listens to us?

We, our projects, and our budgets are often at the mercy of decision makers who have little idea what it takes to get the job done and done well.  If you’re in that place, without a real voice or real control, I’m going to offer you three impactful ideas you can immediately implement to effect change in your professional sphere.  Take note: you can’t have much success changing other’s minds if you’re not willing to make some changes yourself.

So let’s get started.

1.  What Motivates You?

You have to know what motivates you – what you care about – and share that with others.  If a raise or promotion is important to you, let your supervisor know and drop it in conversations when appropriate.  If leading your own team or having control over your work is important, talk about those things too.  In short, what motivates YOU to success?  How do you want to be recognized?

A new yet seasoned associate at one of the “Big Four” accounting firms asked during her onboarding interview how long it typically took to make partner.  The response was four years.  She completed the interview, sat at her desk and thought about that.  She went back and knocked on the door of her new boss.  “What would it take for me to make partner in a year?”  The gentleman had never been asked that before yet he invited her in to sit down and talk it through.  It was going to be tough; still they determined it would be doable.  So she went back with her promotion plan in hand, shared it with her husband, and elicited his help in making it happen.  She made partner in 16 months, faster than anyone had ever done so before.

The point is; we have to get good at what we do.  People you work with and for want to support you, yet you don’t recognize the praise because it’s not what you wanted. Talking about your desires is like unscrewing the bolts holding your glass ceiling in place.  Every time you share your goals with a new mentor, sponsor, superior, or colleague who might open doors, you’re effecting a breakthrough for your own success.

2.  What Motivates Others?

You also have to learn what motivates others – what they care about – listen and find ways to help them reach their goals.  If a raise or promotion is important to them, let their supervisor know and drop it in conversations when appropriate.  If leading their own team or having control over their work is important, talk about those things too.

You’ve likely heard the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”  This essentially says: treat people the way you want to be treated.  Have you ever given someone a gift that was unappreciated?  You put a lot of thought into it.  You liked it a lot.  It was something you would have loved to receive.  Yet the recipient didn’t feel it was worth as much as you because, in reality, it wasn’t what they really wanted.

In contrast, the Platinum Rule states: “Do unto others as they would have you do unto them.”  This is the foundation of living that level of relationship excellence. Treat people the way they want to be treated; help them achieve the things they want to achieve.  And help them help you in the same way (see point #1), and you will begin to see consistent forward progress toward your career aspirations.

When you approach every relationship, new or existing, with a desire to bring value first without worrying about reciprocity, you develop deep, lasting relationships with people.  These people become your own community of loyal advocates and influencers who naturally feel good about you and want to find ways to help you in any way they can.  It might be through the way they talk about you, the doors they find to open for you, the opportunities they share with you.  I promise you will see the increased awareness of you as a respected professional individual grow in your sphere and beyond.

Does that make sense? In a specialized field, your entrance to the C-Suite is all about the relationship brand you portray about yourself .  What do people think and, more importantly, feel about you when you’re not in the room?  If you speak openly about your goals and find ways to help others reach theirs, you will be sought out for your expertise and the value you can bring to the table.  You will be tapped because you can be trusted.  You will be offered opportunities you hadn’t considered because someone else sees something special in you that you had not recognized about yourself.

3.  Make It Stick

This advice you can take to task.  Think about what you want; write a reminder for yourself and post it at your desk where you can see it every day: more importantly, where others might see it and take the opportunity to ask you about it.  It won’t be long before the screws of your glass ceiling begin to loosen and come out.